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every child shoiildlmow 


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«.■:. ; 

■ . 

The Library 

of the 

University of North Carolina 

From the Library of 
Berthold Louis Ullman 

rar yM 


A Gift of 
iss Gertrude Weil 

Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The "Every Child Should Know" Books 

Poems Every Child Should Know, 

Water Wonders Every Child Should 

Edited by Mary E. Burt 


Fairy Tales Every Child Should 

By Jean M. Thompson 


Famous Stories Every Child Should 

Edited by H. W. Mabie 


Myths Every Child Should Know, 

Edited by H. W. Mabie 

**, Edited by H. W. Mabie 

Hymns Every Child Should Know, 

Songs Every Child Should Know, 

Edited by Dolores Bacon 

Edited by Dolores Bacon 

Heroines Every Child Should Know, 

Legends Every Child Should 

Co-edited by H. W. Mabie and 


Kate Stephens 

Edited by H. W. Mabie 

Essays Every Child Should Know, 

Heroes Every Child Should 

Edited by H. W. Mabie 


Prose Every Child Should Know, 

Edited by H. W. Mabie 

Edited by Mary E. Burt 

Birds Every Child Should Know, 

Pictures Every Child Should Know, 

By Neltje Bla7ichan 

By Dolores Bacon 







Doubleday, Page & Company 

Copyright, 190s, 1906, 1907, by Doubleday Page & Company 





THE endeavour has been made in this volume to 
bring together the heroic men of different 
races, periods and types; and in the selection 
of material the most attractive, intelligent and author- 
itative literature has been drawn upon. In cases in 
which the material selected belongs distinctively to the 
best literature, no changes have been made, although 
narratives have been abbreviated; in cases in which the 
material has a historical rather than a distinctively 
literary quality, the text has been treated for "sub- 
stance of doctrine," and omissions have been freely 
made, and connecting words, phrases and even 
sentences have been introduced to give the narrative 
clear connection and completeness. In the prepar- 
ation of the material for the volume the intelligence 
and skill of Miss Kate Stephens have been so freely 
used that she is entitled to the fullest recognition as 
associate editor. H. W. M. 




The editor and publishers wish to extend their 
thanks and acknowledgment to the firms who have 
kindly permitted the use of material in this volume: 

To The Macmillan Co. for selections from "Heroes 
of Chivalry and Romance," "Stories of Charlemagne 
and the Peers of France," "Old English History," 
"The Crusaders," "Father Damien: A Journey from 
Cashmere to His Home in Hawaii"; to Thomas Nel- 
son & Son for material from "Martyrs and Saints of 
the First Twelve Centuries"; to J. M. Dent & Co. 
for selections from "Stories from Le Morte dArthur 
and The Mabinogion" in the Temple Classics for 
Young People; to E. P. Dutton & Co. for material 
from "Chronicle of the Cid"; to Longmans, Green & 
Co. for material from "The Book of Romance"; to 
John C. Winston Co. for material from "Stories from 
History"; to Lothrop, Lee & Shepard for material 
from "The True Story of Abraham Lincoln." 





Introduction xi 

I. Perseus. Adapted from ' The Heroes," 

by Charles Kingsley ... 3 
II. Hercules. By Kate Stephens . .26 

III. Daniel. From Book of Daniel, Chapter 

vi., Verses 1 to 24 . . . -43 

IV. David. From I. Book of Samuel, Chap- 

ter xvii ...... 46 

V. St. George. Adapted from " Martyrs 
and Saints of the First Twelve Cen- 
turies," by Mrs. E. Rundle Charles 52 

VI. King Arthur. Adapted from " Stories 
from Le Morte d'Arthur and the 
Mabinogion, " by Beatrice Clay . 59 
VII. Sir Galahad. Adapted from " Stories 
from Le Morte d'Arthur and the 
Mabinogion," by Beatrice Clay; fol- 
lowed by "Sir Galahad," by Alfred 
Tennyson . . . . -77 
VIII. Siegfried. Adapted from " Heroes of 
Chivalry and Romance," by A. J. 
Church 89 

IX. Roland. Adapted from " Stories of 
Charlemagne and the Peers of 
France," by A. J. Church. . . 109 
X. King Alfred. Adapted from " Old 

English History," by E. A. Freeman 127 

x Contents 


XL The Cid. Adapted from " Chronicle of 
the Cid," from the Spanish, by Rob- 
ert Southey . . . . . 144 
XII. Robin Hood. Adapted from " Book of 
Romance," edited by Andrew Lang; 
including a version of the popular 
ballad, " Robin Hood and the 
Butcher" 170 

XIII. Richard the Lion-Hearted. Adapted 

from "The Crusaders," by A. J. 
Church ...... 189 

XIV. Saint Louis. Adapted from " The Cru- 

saders," by A. J. Church. . . 208 
XV. William Tell. Adapted from " Stories 

from History," by Agnes Strickland 227 

XVI. Robert Bruce. Adapted from "Tales 
of a Grandfather from Scottish His- 
tory," by Sir Walter Scott . . 250 
XVH. George Washington. Adapted from 
" Recollections and Private Memoirs 
of Washington," by G. W. Parke 
Custis ...... 274 

XVni. Robert E. Lee. From "Letters and 
Recollections of General Lee," by 
Captain Robert E. Lee . . . 289 

XIX. Abraham Lincoln. Adapted from "The 
True Story of Abraham Lincoln," 
by Elbridge S. Brooks . . . 309 
XX. Father Damien. Adapted from "Father 
Damien : A Journey from Cashmere 
to His Home in Hawaii," by Edward 
Clifford 320 

See Part II, following page 332, for contents of Fairies Every Child Should Know 




IF THERE had been no real heroes there would have 
been created imaginary ones, for men cannot live 
without them. The hero is just as necessary as 
the; farmer, the sailor, the carpenter and the doctor; 
society could not get on without him. There have been a 
great many different kinds of heroes, for in every age and 
among every people the hero has stood for the qualities 
that were most admired and sought after by the bravest 
and best; and all ages and peoples have imagined or pro- 
duced heroes as inevitably as they have made ploughs for 
turning the soil or ships for getting through the water or 
weapons with which to fight their enemies. To be some 
kind of a hero has been the ambition of spirited boys 
from the beginning of history ; and if you want to know 
what the men and women of a country care for most, you 
must study their heroes. To the boy the hero stands for 
the highest success: to the grown man and woman he 
stands for the deepest and richest life. 

Men have always worked with their hands, but they 
have never been content with that kind of work; they 
have looked up from the fields and watched the sun and 


jrii Introduction 

stars; they have cut wood for their fires in the forest, 
but they have noticed the life which goes on among the 
trees and they have heard the mysterious sounds which 
often fill the air in the remotest places. From the begin- 
ning men have not only used their hands but their in- 
tellect and their imagination; they have had to work or 
starve, but they have seen the world, thought about it and 
dreamed about it. 

They had worked and thought and dreamed only a 
little time before they began to explain the marvelous 
earth on which they found themselves and the strange 
things that happened in it; the vastness and beauty of the 
fields, woods, sky and sea, the force of the wind, the com- 
ing and going of the day and night, the warmth of sum- 
mer when everything grew, and the cold of winter when 
everything died, the rush of the storm and the terrible 
brightness of the lightning. They had no idea of what 
we call law or force; they could not think of anything 
being moved or any noise being made unless there was 
some one like themselves to move things and make 
sounds; and so they made stories of gods and giants and 
heroes and nymphs and fawns; and the myths, which are 
poetic explanations of the world and of the life of men in 
it, came into being. 

But they did not stop with these great matters; they 
began to tell stories about themselves and the things they 

Introduction xiii 

wanted to do and the kind of life they wanted to lead. 
They wanted ease, power, wealth, happiness, freedom; 
so they created genii, built palaces, made magic carpets 
which carried them to the ends of the earth and horses 
with wings which bore them through the air, peopled the 
woods and fields with friendly, frolicsome or mischievous 
little people, who made fires for them if they were friendly, 
or milked cows, overturned bowls, broke dishes and 
played all kinds of antics and made all sorts of trouble if 
they were mischievous or unfriendly. Beside the great 
myths, like wild flowers in the shade of great trees, there 
sprang up among the people of almost all countries a 
host of poetic, satirical, humorous or homely stories of 
fairies, genii, trolls, giants, dwarfs, imps, and queer 
creatures of all kinds; so that to the children of two hun- 
dred years ago the woods, the fields, the solitary and quiet 
places everywhere, were full of folk who kept out of 
sight, but who had a great deal to do with the fortunes 
and fates of men and women. 

From very early times great honor was paid to courage 
and strength ; qualities which won success and impressed 
the imagination in primitive not less than in highly de- 
veloped societies. The first heroes were gods or demi- 
gods, or men of immense strength who did difficult things. 
When men first began to live in the world they were in 
constant peril and faced hardships of every kind; and 

xiv Introduction 

from the start they had very hard work to do. There 
were fields to be cultivated, houses to be built, woods to 
be explored, beasts to be killed and other beasts to be 
tamed and set to work. There were many things to be 
done and no tools to work with; there were great 
storms to be faced and no houses for protection; there 
was terrible cold and no fire or clothing; there were di- 
seases and no medicine ; there were perils on land, in the 
water and in the air, and no knowledge of the ways of 
meeting them. 

At the very start courage and strength were necessary 
if life was to be preserved and men were to live together 
in safety and with comfort. When a strong man ap- 
peared he helped his fellows to make themselves more at 
ease in the world. Sometimes he did this by simply mak- 
ing himself more comfortable and thus showing others 
how to do it; sometimes he did it by working for his 
fellows. No matter how selfish a man may be, if he does 
any real work in the world he works not only for himself 
but for others. In this way a selfish man like Napoleon 
does the work of a hero without meaning to do it: for the 
world is so made that no capable man or woman can be 
entirely selfish, no matter how hard they try to get and 
keep everything for themselves. • 

It was not long before men saw that strong men could 
not work for themselves without working for others, and 

Introduction xv 

there came in very early the idea of service as part of the 
idea of heroism, and the demi-gods, who were among the 
earliest heroes, were servants as well as masters. Her- 
cules, the most powerful of the heroes to Greek and 
Roman boys was set to do the most difficult things not 
for himself but for others. He destroyed lions, hydras, 
wild boars, birds with brazen beaks and wings, mad 
bulls, many-headed monsters, horses which fed on 
human flesh, dragons, he mastered the three-headed dog 
Cerberus, he tore asunder the rocks at the Strait of 
Gibraltar which bear his name to open a channel be- 
tween the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. He fought 
the Centaur and brought back Alcestis, the wife of 
Admetus, from the pale regions of death where she had 
gone to save her husband's life. In all these labors, 
which were so great that works of extraordinary mag- 
nitude have since been called Herculean, the brave, 
patient, suffering hero, was helping other people rather 
than helping himself. 

And this was true of Thor, the strong god of the Norse- 
men whose hammer was the most terrible weapon in the 
world, the roll and crash of thunder being the sound of 
it and the blinding lightning the flash of i# The gods 
were the friends of men, giving the light and warmth and 
fertility of the summer that the fields might bear food 
for them and the long, bright days might bring them 

xvi Introduction 

peace and happiness. And the giants were the enemies 
of men, tirelessly trying to make the fields desolate and 
stop the singing of birds and shroud the sky in darkness 
by driving away summer with the icy breath of winter. 
In this perpetual conflict Thor was the hero of strength 
and courage, beating back the giants, defeating their 
schemes and fighting the battle for gods and men with 
tireless zeal; counting no peril or hardship too great 
if there was heroic work to be done. 

Courage and achievement are the two signs of the hero ; 
he may possess or lack many other qualities, but he must 
be daring and he must do things and not dream or talk 
about them. 

From the days of Hercules to those of Washington and 
Livingston, men of heroic spirit have not stopped to 
count the cost when a deed must be done but have done 
it, usually with very little talk or noise; for heroes, as a 
rule, are much more interested in getting their work done 
than in making themselves conspicuous or winning a 
reputation. Heroes have often been harsh and even 
brutal, especially in the earliest times when humane feel- 
ing and a compassionate spirit had not been developed; 
Siegfried, Jason, Gustavas Adolphus and Von Tromp 
were often arbitrary and oppressive in their attitude to- 
ward men; and, in later times, Alfred the Great, William 
the Silent and Nelson were not without serious defects 

Introduction xvii 

of temper and sometimes of character. Men are not 
great or heroic because they are faultless; they are great 
and heroic because they dare, suffer, achieve and serve. 
And men love their heroes not because they have been 
perfect characters under all conditions, but because they 
have been brave, true, able, and unselfish. A man may 
have few faults and count for very little in the world, 
because he lacks force, daring, the greatness of soul 
which moves before a generation like a flaming torch; a 
man may lead a stainless life, not because he is really 
virtuous but because he has very few temptations within 
or without. Some of the most heroic men have put 
forth more strength in resisting a single temptation than 
men of theories and more commonplace natures put forth 
in a life time. The serious faults of heroes are not over- 
looked or forgotten; the great man is as much the servant 
of the moral law as the little man, and pays the same 
price for disobedience; but generosity of spirit, devotion 
to high aims and capacity for self-sacrifice often out- 
weigh serious offences. Nelson is less a hero because he 
yielded to a great temptation; but he remains a hero in 
spite of the stain on his fame. It is much better not to be 
profane under any circumstances, but when Washington 
swore fiercely at Charles Lee on the battle field of Mon- 
mouth his profanity was the expression of the righteous 
wrath of a good man, In judging the hero one must 

xviii Introduction 

take into account the age in which he lived, the dif- 
ferences in moral standards between the past and the 
present, and the force of the temptations which come 
with strength of body, passion, imagination, great posi- 
tion, colossal enterprises; these do not conceal or excuse 
the faults of heroes but they explain those faults. 

The men whose bravery and great deeds are described 
in these pages have been selected not because they are 
faultless in character and life, but because they were 
brave, generous, self -forgetful, self-sacrificing and capable 
of splendid deeds. Men love and honour them not only 
because they owe them a great deal of gratitude, but be- 
cause they see in their heroes the kind of men they would 
like to be ; for the possibilities of the heroic are in almost 
all men. Stories of the heroes have often made other 
men strong and brave and true in the face of great perils 
and tasks, and this book is put forth in the faith that it 
will not only pass on the fame of the heroes of the past 
but help make heroes in the present. 

H. W. M. 

Heroes Every Child Should Know 



ONCE upon a time there were two princes who 
were twins. Their names were Acrisius and 
Prcetus, and they lived in the pleasant vale 
of Argos, far away in Hellas. They had fruitful mead- 
ows and vineyards, sheep and oxen, great herds of 
horses feeding down in Lerna Fen, and all that men 
could need to make them blest: and yet they were 
wretched, because they were jealous of each other. 
From the moment they were born they began to quarrel ; 
and when they grew up each tried to take away the 
other's share of the kingdom, and keep all for himself. 

But there came a prophet to Acrisius and prophesied 
against him, and said, "Because you have risen up 
against your, own blood, your own blood shall rise up 
against you; because you have sinned against your 
kindred, by your kindred you shall be punished. 
Your daugher Danae shall have a son, and by that 
son's hands you shall die. So the gods have ordained, 
and it will surely come to pass." 

And at that Acrisius was very much afraid; but he 
did not mend his ways. He had been cruel to his own 
family, and, instead of repenting and being kind to them, 
he went on to be more cruel than ever: for he shut up 
his fair daughter Danae in a cavern underground, lined 
with brass, that no one might come near her. So he 
fancied himself more cunning than the gods: but you 


4 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

will see presently whether he was able to escape 

Now it came to pass that in time a son came to Danae: 
so beautiful a babe that any but King Acrisius would 
have had pity on it. But he had no pity; for he took 
Danae and her babe down to the seashore, and put them 
into a great chest and thrust them out to sea, for the 
winds and the waves to carry them whithersoever they 

The northwest wind blew freshly out of the blue 
mountains, and down the pleasant vale of Argos, and 
away and out to sea. And away and out to sea before 
it floated the mother and her babe, while all who watched 
them wept, save that cruel father, King Acrisius. 

So they floated on and on, and the chest danced up 
and down upon the billows, and the baby slept upon its 
mother's breast: but the poor mother could not sleep, 
but watched and wept, and she sang to her baby as they 
floated; and the song which she sang you shall learn 
yourselves some day. 

And now they are past the last blue headland, and in 
the open sea; and there is nothing round them but the 
waves, and the sky, and the wind. But the waves are 
gentle, and the sky is clear, and the breeze is tender and 

So a night passed, and a day, and a long day it was for 
Danae; and another night and day beside, till Danae 
was faint with hunger and weeping, and yet no land ap- 
peared. And all the while the babe slept quietly; and 
at last poor Danae drooped her head and fell asleep like- 
wise with her cheek against the babe's. 

After a while she was awakened suddenly; for the 
chest was jarring and grinding, and the air was full of 

Perseus 5 

sound. She looked up, and over her head were mighty 
cliffs, all red in the setting sun, and around her rocks and 
breakers, and flying flakes of foam. She clasped her 
hands together, and shrieked aloud for help. And 
when she cried, help met her: for now there came over 
the rocks a tall and stately man, and looked down wonder- 
ingly upon poor Danae tossing about in the chest among 
the waves. 

He wore a rough cloak of frieze, and on his head a 
broad hat to shade his face; in his hand he carried a 
trident for spearing fish, and over his shoulder was a 
casting-net; but Danae could see that he was no common 
man by his stature, and his walk, and his flowing golden 
hair and beard; and by the two servants who came be- 
hind him, carrying baskets for his fish. But she had 
hardly time to look at him before he had laid aside his 
trident and leapt down the rocks, and thrown his casting- 
net so surely over Danae and the chest, that he drew it, 
and her, and the baby, safe upon a ledge of rock. 

Then the fisherman took Danae by the hand, and 
lifted her out of the chest, and said: 

"O beautiful damsel, what strange chance has brought 
you to this island in so frail a ship ? Who are you, and 
whence? Surely you are some King's daughter and 
this boy has somewhat more than mortal." 

And as he spoke he pointed to the babe; for its face 
shone like the morning star. 

But Danae only held down her head, and sobbed 

"Tell me to what land I have come, unhappy that I 
am; and among what men I have fallen!" 

And he said, "This isle is called Seriphos, and I am 
a Hellen, and dwell in it. I am the brother of Polydectes 

6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

the King; and men call me Dictys the netter, because 
I catch the fish of the shore." 

Then Danae fell down at his feet, and embraced his 
knees and cried: 

"Oh, sir, have pity upon a stranger, whom a cruel 
doom has driven to your land; and let me live in your 
house as a servant; but treat me honourably, for I was 
once a king's daughter, and this my boy (as you have 
truly said) is of no common race. I will not be a 
charge to you, or eat the bread of idleness; for I am 
more skilful in weaving and embroidery than all the 
maidens of my land." 

And she was going on; but Dictys stopped her, and 
raised her up, and said: 

"My daughter, I am old, and my hairs are growing 
grey ; while I have no children to make my home cheerful. 
Come with me then, and you shall be a daughter to me 
and to my wife, and this babe shall be our grandchild. 
For I fear the gods, and show hospitality to all strangers; 
knowing that good deeds, like evil ones, always return 
to those who do them." 

So Danae was comforted, and went home with Dictys 
the good fisherman, and was a daughter to him and to 
his wife. 

Fifteen years were passed and gone and the babe was 
now grown to a tall lad and a sailor, and went many 
voyages after merchandise to the islands round. His 
mother called him Perseus ; but all the people in Seriphos 
said that he was not the son of mortal man, and called 
him Zeus, the son of the king of the Immortals. For 
though he was but fifteen, he was taller by a head than 
any man in the island; and he was the most skilful of all 
in running and wrestling and boxing, and in throwing the 

Perseus 7 

quoit and the javelin, and in rowing with the oar, and in 
playing on the harp, and in all which befits a man. And 
he was brave and truthful, gentle and courteous, for good 
old Dictys had trained him well; and well it was for 
Perseus that he had done so. 

Now one day at Samos, while the ship was lading, 
Perseus wandered into a pleasant wood to get out of the 
sun, and sat down on the turf and fell asleep. And as 
he slept a strange dream came to him — the strangest 
dream which he had ever had in his life. 

There came a lady to him through the wood, taller 
than he, or any mortal man; but beautiful exceedingly, 
with grey eyes, clear and piercing, but strangely soft 
and mild. On her head was a helmet, and in her hand 
a spear. And over her shoulder, above her long blue 
robes, hung a goat-skin, which bore up a mighty shield 
of brass, polished like a mirror. She stood and looked 
at him with her clear grey eyes ; and Perseus saw that 
her eyelids never moved, nor her eyeballs, but looked 
straight through and through him, and into his very 
heart, as if she could see all the secrets of his soul, and 
knew all that he had ever thought or longed for since 
the day that he was born. And Perseus dropped his 
eyes, trembling and blushing, as the wonderful lady 

"Perseus, you must do an errand for me." 

"Who are you, lady? And how do you know my 

"I am Pallas Athene; and I know the thoughts of all 
men's hearts, and discern their manhood or their baseness. 
And from the souls of clay I turn away, and they are 
blest, but not by me. They fatten at ease, like sheep in 
the pasture, and eat what they did not sow, like oxen in 

8 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

the stall. They grow and spread, like the gourd along 
the ground; but, like the gourd, they give no shade to 
the traveller, and when they are ripe death gathers them, 
and they go down unloved into hell, and their name 
vanishes out of the land. 

"But to the souls of fire I give more fire, and to 
those who are manful I give a might more than man's. 
These are the heroes, the sons of the Immortals who are 
blest, but not like the souls of clay. For I drive them 
forth by strange paths, Perseus, that they may fight the 
Titans and the monsters, the enemies of gods and men. 
Through doubt and need, danger and battle, I drive 
them ; and some of them are slain in the flower of youth, 
no man knows when or where; and some of them win 
noble names, and a fair and green old age ; but what will 
be their latter end I know not, and none, save Zeus, the 
father of gods and men. Tell me now, Perseus, which 
of these two sorts of men seem to you more blest?" 

Then Perseus answered boldly: "Better to die in the 
flower of youth, on the chance of winning a noble name, 
than to live at ease like the sheep, and die unloved and 

Then that strange lady laughed, and held up her 
brazen shield, and cried: "See here, Perseus; dare you 
face such a monster as this, and slay it, that I may 
place its head upon this shield?" 

And in the mirror of the shield there appeared a face 
and as Perseus looked on it his blood ran cold. It was 
the face of a beautiful woman ; but her cheeks were pale 
as death, and her brows were knit with everlasting pain, 
and her lips were thin and bitter like a snake's; and, 
instead of hair, vipers wreathed about her temples, and 
shot out their forked tongues; while round her head 

Perseus g 

were folded wings like an eagle's, and upon her bosom 
claws of brass. 

And Perseus looked awhile, and then said: "If there 
is anything so fierce and foul on earth, it were a noble 
deed to kill it. Where can I find the monster?" 

Then the strange lady smiled again, and said: "Not 
yet; you are too young, and too unskilled; for this is 
Medusa the Gorgon, the mother of a monstrous brood." 

And Perseus said, "Try me; for since you spoke to 
me a new soul has come into my breast, and I should be 
ashamed not to dare anything which I can do. Show 
me, then, how I can do this!" 

"Perseus," said Athene, "think well before you at- 
tempt; for this deed requires a seven years' journey, in 
which you cannot repent or turn back nor escape; but 
if your heart fails you, you must die in the Unshapen 
Land, where no man will ever find your bones." 

"Better so than live despised," said Perseus. "Tell 
me, then, oh tell me, fair and wise Goddess, how I can 
do but this one thing, and then, if need be, die!" 

Then Athene" smiled and said: 

"Be patient, and listen; for if you forget my words, 
you will indeed die. You must go northward to the 
country of the Hyperboreans, who live beyond the pole, 
at the sources of the cold north wind, till you find the 
three Grey Sisters, who have but one eye and one tooth 
between them. You must ask them the way to the 
Nymphs, the daughters of the Evening Star, who dance 
about the golden tree, in the Atlantic island of the west. 
They will tell you the way to the Gorgon, that you may 
slay her, my enemy, the mother of monstrous beasts. 
Once she was a maiden as beautiful as morn, till in her 
pride she sinned a sin at which the sun hid his face; and 

io Heroes Every Child Should Know 

from that day her hair was turned to vipers, and her 
hands to eagle's claws; and her heart was filled with 
shame and rage, and her lips with bitter venom ; and her 
eyes became so terrible that whosover looks on them is 
turned to stone; and her children are the winged horse 
and the giant of the golden sword ; and her grandchildren 
are Echidna the witch -adder, and Geryon the three- 
headed tyrant, who feeds his herds beside the herds of 
hell. So she became the sister of the Gorgons, the 
daughters of the Queen of the Sea. Touch them not, 
for they are immortal; but bring me only Medusa's 

"And I will bring it!" said Perseus; "but how am I 
to escape her eyes? Will she not freeze me too into 

"You shall take this polished shield," said Athene, 
" and when you come near her look not at her yourself , 
but at her image in the brass; so you may strike her 
safely. And when you have struck off her head, wrap 
it, with your face turned away, in the folds of the goat- 
skin on which the shield hangs. So you will bring it 
safely back to me, and win to yourself renown, and a 
place among the heroes who feast with the Immortals 
upon the peak where no winds blow." 

Then Perseus said, "I will go, though I die in going. 
But how shall I cross the seas without a ship? And 
who will show me my way ? And when I find her, how 
shall I slay her, if her scales be iron and brass?" 

Now : beside Athene appeared a young man more 
light-limbed than the stag, whose eyes were like sparks 
of fire. By his side was a scimitar of diamond, all of 
one clear precious stone, and on his feet were golden san- 
dals, from the heels of which grew living wings. 

Perseus n 

Then the young man spoke: "These sandals of mine 
will bear you across the seas, and over hill and dale like 
a bird, as they bear me all day long; for I am Hermes, 
the far-famed Argus-slayer, the messenger of the Im- 
mortals who dwell on Olympus." 

Then Perseus fell down and worshipped, while the 
young man spoke again: 

"The sandals themselves will guide you on the road, 
for they are divine and cannot stray; and this sword itself 
the Argus-slayer, will kill her, for it is divine, and needs 
no second stroke. Arise, and gird them on, and go 

So Peresus arose, and girded on the sandals and the 

And Athene* cried, "Now leap from the cliff and be 

But Perseus lingered. 

"May I not bid farewell to my mother and to Dictys? 
And may I not offer burnt offerings to you, and to Hermes 
the far-famed Argus-slayer, and to Father Zeus above?" 

"You shall not bid farewell to your mother, lest your 
heart relent at her weeping. I will comfort her and 
Dictys until you return in peace. Nor shall you offer 
burnt offerings to the Olympians; for your offering shall 
be Medusa's head. Leap, and trust in the armour of 
the Immortals." 

Then Perseus looked down the cliff and shuddered; 
but he was ashamed to show his dread. Then he 
thought of Medusa and the renown before him, and he 
leapt into the empty air. 

And behold, instead of falling he floated, and stood, 
and ran along the sky. He looked back, but Athene" 
had vanished, and Hermes; and the sandals led him on 

12 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

northward ever, like a crane who follows the spring 
toward the Ister fens. 

So Perseus started on his journey, going dry-shod over 
land and sea; and his heart was high and joyful, for the 
winged sandals bore him each day a seven days' journey. 
And he turned neither to the right hand nor the left, till 
he came to the Unshapen Land, and the place which has 
no name. 

And seven days he walked through it on a path which 
few can tell, till he came to the edge of the everlasting 
night, where the air was full of feathers, and the soil was 
hard with ice; and there at last he found the three Grey 
Sisters, by the shore of the freezing sea, nodding upon a 
white log of driftwood, beneath the cold white winter 
moon; and they chanted a low song together, "Why the 
old times were better than the new." 

There was no living thing around them, not a fly, not 
a moss upon the rocks. Neither seal nor sea gull dare 
come near, lest the ice should clutch them in its claws. 
The surge broke up in foam, but it fell again in flakes of 
snow; and it frosted the hair of the three Grey Sisters, 
and the bones in the ice cliff above their heads. They 
passed the eye from one to the other, but for all that they 
could not see; and they passed the tooth from one to 
the other, but for all that they could not eat; and they 
sat in the full glare of the moon, but they were none the 
warmer for her beams. And Perseus pitied the three 
Grey Sisters ; but they did not pity themselves. 

So he said, "Oh, venerable mothers, wisdom is the 
daughter of old age. You therefore should know 
many things. Tell me, if you can, the path to the 

Then one cried, "Who is this who reproaches us with 



old age?" And another, "This is the voice of one of the 
children of men." 

Then one cried, " Give me the eye, that I may see him"; 
and another, "Give me the tooth, that I may bite him." 
But Perseus, when he saw that they were foolish and 
proud, and did not love the children of men, left off 
pitying them. Then he stepped close to them, and 
watched till they passed the eye from hand to hand. And 
as they groped about between themselves, he held out 
his own hand gently, till one of them put the eye into it, 
fancying that it was the hand of her sister. Then he 
sprang back, and laughed, and cried : 

"Cruel and proud old women, I have your eye; and 
I will throw it into the sea, unless you tell me the path to 
the Gorgon, and swear to me that you tell me right." 

Then they wept, and chattered, and scolded; but in 
vain. They were forced to tell the truth, though, when 
they told it, Perseus could hardly make out the road. 

"You must go," they said, "foolish boy, to the south- 
ward, into the ugly glare of the sun, till you come to 
Atlas the Giant, who holds the heaven and the earth 
apart. And you must ask his daughters, the Hesperides, 
who are young and foolish like yourself. And now give 
us back our eye, for we have forgotten all the rest." 

So Perseus gave them back their eye. And he leaped 
away to the southward, leaving the snow and the ice 
behind. And the terns and the sea gulls swept laughing 
round his head, and called to him to stop and play, and 
the dolphins gambolled up as he passed, and offered to 
carry him on their back. And all night long the sea 
nymphs sang sweetly. Day by day the sun rose higher 
and leaped more swiftly into the sea at night, and more 
swiftly out of the sea at dawn; while Perseus skimmed 

14 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

over the billows like a sea gull, and his feet were never 
wetted; and leapt on from wave to wave, and his limba 
were never weary, till he saw far away a mighty mountain, 
all rose-red in the setting sun. Perseus knew that it 
was Atlas, who holds the heavens and the earth apart. 

He leapt on shore, and wandered upward, among 
pleasant valleys and waterfalls. At last he heard sweet 
voices singing; and he guessed that he was come to the 
garden of the Nymphs, the daughters of the Evening 
Star. They sang like nightingales among the thickets, 
and Perseus stopped to hear their song; but the words 
which they spoke he could not understand. So he 
stepped forward and saw them dancing, hand in hand 
around the charmed tree, which bent under its golden 
fruit; and round the tree foot was coiled the dragon, old 
Ladon the sleepless snake,who lies there for ever, listen- 
ing to the song of the maidens, blinking and watching 
with dry bright eyes. 

Then Perseus stopped, not because he feared the dra- 
gon, but because he was bashful before those fair maids ; 
but when they saw him, they too stopped, and called to 
him with trembling voices : 

"Who are you, fair boy ? Come dance with us around 
the tree in the garden which knows no winter, the home 
of the south wind and the sun. Come hither and play 
with us awhile; we have danced alone here for a thou- 
sand years, and our hearts are weary with longing for a 

"I cannot dance with you, fair maidens; for I must 
do the errand of the Immortals. So tell me the way to 
the Gorgon, lest I wander and perish in the waves." 

Then they sighed and wept ; and answered: 

"The Gorgon! she will freeze you into stone." 

Perseus 1 5 

"It is better to die like a hero than to live like an ox 
in a stall. The Immortals have lent me weapons, and 
they will give me wit to use them." 

Then they sighed again and answered: "Fair boy, if 
you are bent on your own ruin, be it so. We know not 
the way to the Gorgon; but we will ask the giant Atlas 
above upon the mountain peak." So they went up the 
mountain to Atlas their uncle, and Perseus went up with 
them. And they found the giant kneeling, as he held the 
heavens and the earth apart. 

They asked him, and he answered mildly, pointing 
to the sea board with his mightly hand, "I can see 
the Gorgons lying on an island far away, but this youth 
can never come near them, unless he has the hat of dark- 
ness, which whosoever wears cannot be seen." 

Then cried Perseus, "Where is that hat, that I may 
find it?" • * 

But the giant smiled. "No living mortal can find 
that hat, for it lies in the depths of Hades, in the regions 
of the dead. But my nieces are immortal, and they shall 
fetch it for you, if you will promise me one thing and keep 
your faith." 

Then Perseus promised; and the giant said, "When 
you come back with the head of Medusa, you shall show 
me the beautiful horror, that I may lose my feeling and 
my breathing, and become a stone for ever; for it is 
weary labour for me to hold the heavens and the earth 

Then Perseus promised, and the eldest of the Nymphs 
went down, and into a dark cavern among the cliffs, out 
of which came smoke and thunder, for it was one of the 
mouths of hell. 

And Perseus and the Nymphs sat down seven days, 

1 6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and waited trembling, till the Nymph came up again; 
and her face was pale, and her eyes dazzled with the light 
for she had been long in the dreary darkness; but in her 
hand was the magic hat. 

Then all the Nymphs kissed Perseus, and wept over 
him a long while; but he was only impatient to be gone. 
And at last they put the hat upon his head, and he van- 
ished out of their sight. 

But Perseus went on boldly, past many an ugly sight, 
far away into the heart of the Unshapen Land, till he 
heard the rustle of the Gorgons' wings and saw the glitter 
of their brazen talons; and then he knew that it was 
time to halt, lest Medusa should freeze him into stone. 

He thought awhile with himself, and remembered 
Athene's words. He arose aloft into the air, and held 
the mirror of the shield above his head, and looked up 
into it that he might see all that was below him. 

And he saw the three Gorgons sleeping. He knew that 
they could not see him, because the hat of darkness hid 
him ; and yet he trembled as he sank down near them, so 
terrible were those brazen claws. 

Two of the Gorgons were foul as swine, and lay sleep- 
ing heavily, with their mighty wings outspread; but 
Medusa tossed to and fro restlessly, and as she tossed 
Perseus pitied her. But as he looked, from among her 
tresses the vipers' heads awoke, and peeped up with their 
bright dry eyes, and showed their fangs, and hissed; and 
Medusa, as she tossed, threw back her wings and showed 
her brazen claws. 

Then Perseus came down and stepped to her boldly, 
and looked steadfastly on his mirror, and struck with 
Herpe" stoutly once; and he did not need to strike again. 

Then he wrapped the head in the goat-skin, turning 

Perseus 1 7 

away his eyes, and sprang into the air aloft, faster than 
he ever sprang before. 

For Medusa's wings and talons rattled as she sank 
dead upon the rocks ; and her two foul sisters woke, and 
saw her lying dead. 

Into the air they sprang yelling, and looked for him who 
had done the deed. They rushed, sweeping and flapping, 
like eagles after a hare; and Perseus's blood ran cold as 
he saw them come howling on his track; and he cried, 
"Bear me well now, brave sandals, for the hounds of 
Death are at my heels!" 

And well the brave sandals bore him, aloft through 
cloud and sunshine, across the shoreless sea; and fast 
followed the hounds of Death. But the sandals were too 
swift, even for Gorgons, and by nightfall they were far 
behind, two black specks in the southern sky, till the sun 
sank and he saw them no more. 

Then he came again to Atlas, and the garden of the 
Nymphs; and when the giant heard him coming he 
groaned, and said, "Fulfil thy promise to me." Then 
Perseus held up to him the Gorgon's head, and he had 
rest from all his toil ; for he became a crag of stone, which 
sleeps forever far above the clouds. 

Perseus thanked the Nymphs, and asked them, "By 
what road shall I go homeward again, for I have wandered 
far in coming hither?" 

And they wept and cried, "Go home no more, but stay 
and play with us, the lonely maidens, who dwell for ever 
far away from gods and men." 

But he refused, and they told him his road. And he 
leapt down the mountain, and went on, lessening and 
lessening like a sea gull, away and out to sea. 

So Perseus flitted onward to the northeast, over many 

1 8 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

a league of sea, till he came to the rolling sand hills and 
the dreary Lybian shore. 

And he flitted on across the desert: over rock ledges, 
and banks of shingle, and level wastes of sand, and shell 
drifts bleaching in the sunshine, and the skeletons of 
great sea monsters, and dead bones of ancient giants, 
strewn up and down upon the old sea floor. And as he 
went the blood drops fell to the earth from the Gorgon's 
head, and became poisonous asps and adders, which 
breed in the desert to this day. 

Over the sands he went, till he saw the Dwarfs who 
fought with cranes. Their spears were of reeds and 
rushes, and their houses of the eggshells of the cranes; 
and Perseus laughed, and went his way to the northeast, 
hoping all day long to see the blue Mediterranean spark- 
ling, that he might fly across it to his home. 

But now came down a mighty wind, and swept him 
back southward toward the desert. All day long he 
strove against it; but even the winged sandals could 
not prevail. So he was forced to float down the wind all 
night ; and when the morning dawned there was nothing 
but the blinding sun in the blinding blue; and round 
him there was nothing but the blinding sand. 

And Perseus said, "Surely I am not here without the 
will of the Immortals, for Athene will not lie. Were not 
these sandals to lead me in the right road? Then the 
road in which I have tried to go must be a wrong road." 

Then suddenly his ears were opened, and he heard the 
sound of running water. And at that his heart was 
lifted up, though he scarcely dare believe his ears; and 
within a bowshot of him was a glen in the sand, and 
marble rocks, and date trees, and a lawn of gay green 
grass. And through the lawn a streamlet sparkled and 

Perseus 19 

wandered out beyond the trees, and vanished in the sand. 
And Perseus laughed for joy, and leapt down the cliff 
and drank of the cool water, and ate of the dates, and 
slept upon the turf, and leapt up and went forward. 

Then he towered in the air like an eagle, for his limbs 
were strong again ; and he flew all night across the moun- 
tain till the day began to dawn, and rosy-fingered Eos 
came blushing up the sky. And then, behold, beneath 
him was the long green garden of Egypt and the shining 
stream of Nile. 

And he saw cities walled up to heaven, and temples, 
and obelisks, and pyramids, and giant gods of stone. 
And he came down amid fields of barley and flax, and 
millet, and clambering gourds; and saw the people 
coming out of the gates of a great city, and setting to 
work, each in his place, among the water courses, parting 
the streams among the plants cunningly with their feet, 
according to the wisdom of the Egyptians. But when 
they saw him they all stopped their work, and gathered 
round him, and cried: 

"Who art thou, fair youth? and what Dearest thou 
beneath they goat-skin there ? Surely thou art one of 
the Immortals; for thy skin is white like ivory, and ours 
is red like clay. Thy hair is like threads of gold, and 
ours is black and curled. Surely thou art one of the 
Immortals"; and they would have worshipped him then 
and there; but Perseus said: 

"I am not one of the Immortals; but I am a hero of 
the Hellens. And I have slain the Gorgon in the wilder- 
ness, and bear her head with me. Give me food, there- 
fore, that I may go forward and finish my work." 

Then they gave him food, and fruit, but they would 
not let him go. And when the news came into the city 

20 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

that the Gorgon was slain, the priests came out to meet 
him, and the maidens, with songs and dances, and tim- 
brels and harps; and they would have brought him to 
their temple and to their King ; but Perseus put on the 
hat of darkness, and vanished away out of their sight. 

And Perseus flew along the shore above the sea; and 
he went on all the day; and he went on all the night. 

And at the dawn of day he looked toward the cliffs; 
and at the water's edge, under a black rock, he saw a 
white image stand. 

"This," thought he, "must surely be the statue of 
some sea god; I will go near and see what kind of gods 
these barbarians worship." 

But when he came near, it was no statue, but a maiden 
of flesh and blood ; for he could see her tresses streaming 
in the breeze; and as he came closer still, he could see 
how she shrank and shivered when the waves sprinkled 
her with cold salt spray. Her arms were spread above 
her head, and fastened to the rock with chains of brass; 
and her head drooped on her bosom, either with sleep, 
or weariness, or grief. But now and then she looked up 
and wailed, and called her mother; yet she did not see 
Perseus, for the cap of darkness was on his head. 

Full of pity and indignation, Perseus drew near and 
looked upon the maid. And, lifting the hat from his 
head, he flashed into her sight. She shrieked with terror, 
and tried to hide her face with her hair, for she could 
not with her hands; but Perseus cried: 

"Do not fear me, fair one; I am a Hellen, and no 
barbarian. What cruel men have bound you? But 
first I will set you free." 

And he tore at the fetters, but they were too strong for 
him; while the maiden cried: 

Perseus 21 

"Touch me not; I am accursed, devoted as a victim 
to the sea gods. They will slay you, if you dare to set 
me free." 

"Let them try," said Perseus; and drawing Herpe 
from his thigh, he cut through the brass as if it had been 

"Now," he said, "you belong to me, and not to these 
sea gods, whosoever they may be!" But she only 
called the more on her mother. 

"Why call on your mother? She can be no mother 
to have left you here." 

And she answered, weeping: 

"I am the daughter of Cepheus, King of Iopa, and my 
mother is Cassiopoeia of the beautiful tresses, and they 
called me Andromeda, as long as life was mine. And I 
stand bound here, hapless that I am, for the sea monster's 
food, to atone for my mother's sin. For she boasted 
of me once that I was fairer than the Queen of the Fishes; 
so she in her wrath sent the sea floods, and her brother 
the Fire King sent the earthquakes, and wasted all the 
land, and after the floods a monster bred of the slime who 
devours all living things. And now he must devour me, 
guiltless though I am — me who never harmed a living 
thing, nor saw a fish upon the shore but I gave it life, and 
threw it back into the sea; for in our land we eat no fish, 
for fear of their queen. Yet the priests say that nothing 
but my blood can atone for a sin which I never com- 

But Perseus laughed, and said, "A sea monster? I 
have fought with worse than him: I would have faced 
Immortals for your sake : how much more a beast of the 

Then Andromeda looked up at him, and new hope 

22 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

was kindled in her breast, so proud and fair did he stand 
with one hand round her, and in the other the glittering 
sword. But she only sighed, and wept the more, and 

"Why will you die, young as you are? Is there not 
death and sorrow enough in the world already? It is 
noble for me to die, that I may save the lives of a whole 
people; but you, better than them all, why should I slay 
you too? Go you your way; I must go mine." And 
then, suddenly looking up, she pointed to the sea, and 
shrieked : 

"There he comes, with the sunrise, as they promised. 
I must die now. How shall I endure it ? Oh, go! Is it 
not dreadful enough to be torn piecemeal, without hav- 
ing you to look on?" And she tried to thrust him away. 

But he said: "I go; yet promise me one thing ere I go: 
that if I slay this beast you will be my wife, and come 
back with me to my kingdom in fruitful Argos. Promise 
me, and seal it with a kiss." 

Then she lifted up her face, and kissed him; and 
Perseus laughed for joy, and flew upward, while Androm- 
eda crouched trembling on the rock. 

On came the great sea monster, coasting along like 
a huge black galley. His great sides were fringed with 
clustering shells and seaweeds, and the water gurgled 
in and out of his wide jaws. 

At last he saw Andromeda, and shot forward to take 
his prey, while the waves foamed white behind him, and 
before him the fish fled leaping. 

Then down from the height of the air fell Perseus like 
a shooting star; down to the crests of the waves, while 
Andromeda hid her face as he shouted; and then there 
was silence for a while. 

Perseus 23 

At last she looked up trembling, and saw Perseus 
springing toward her ; and instead of the monster a long 
black rock, with the sea rippling quietly round it. 

Who then so proud as Perseus, as he leapt back to 
the rock, and lifted his fair Andromeda in his arms, and 
flew with her to the cliff top, as a falcon carries a dove ? 

Who so proud as Perseus, and who so joyful as all the 
i^Ethiop people ? For they had stood watching the mon- 
ster from the cliffs, wailing for the maiden's fate. And 
already a messenger had gone to Cepheus and Cassio- 
pceia, where they sat in sackcloth and ashes on the ground, 
in the innermost palace chambers, awaiting their 
daughter's end. And they came, and all the city with 
them, to see the wonder, with songs and with dances, 
with cymbals and harps, and received their daughter 
back again, as one alive from the dead. 

Then Cepheus said, "Hero of the Hellens, stay here 
with me and be my son-in-law, and I will give you the 
half of my kingdom." 

"I will be your son-in-law," said Perseus, "but of 
your kingdom I will have none, for I long after the pleas- 
ant land of Greece, and my mother who waits for me at 

Then Cepheus said, "You must not take my daughter 
away at once, for she is to us like one alive from the 
dead. Stay with us here a year, and after that you shall 
return with honour." And Perseus consented. So 
they went up to the palace; and when they came in, 
there stood in the hall Phineus, the brother of Cepheus, 
chafing like a bear robbed of her whelps, and with him 
his sons, and his servants, and many an armed man, 
and he cried to Cepheus: 

"You shall not marry your daughter to this stranger 

24 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

of whom no one knows even the name. Was not An- 
dromeda betrothed to my son? And now she is safe 
again, has he not a right to claim her?" 

But Perseus laughed, and answered: "If your son 
is in want of a bride, let him save a maiden for himself." 

Then he unveiled the Gorgon's head, and said, "This 
' has delivered my bride from one wild beast ; it shall deliver 
her from many." And as he spoke Phineus and all his 
men-at-arms stopped short, and stiffened each man as 
he stood; and before Perseus had drawn the goat-skin 
over the face again, they were all turned into stone. 
Then Perseus bade the people bring levers and roll them 

So they made a great wedding feast, which lasted 
seven whole days, and who so happy as Perseus and 
Andromeda ? 

And when a year was ended Perseus hired Phoenicians 
from Tyre, and cut down cedars, and built himself a 
a noble galley; and painted its cheeks with vermilion 
and pitched its sides with pitch; and in it he put An- 
dromeda, and all her dowry of jewels, and rich shawls, 
and spices from the East; and great was the weeping 
when they rowed away. But the remembrance of his 
brave deed was left behind; and Andromeda's rock was 
shown at Iopa in Palestine till more than a thousand 
years were past. 

So Perseus and the Phoenicians rowed to the westward, 
across the sea, till they came to the pleasant Isles of 
Hellas, and Seriphos, his ancient home. 

Then he left his galley on the beach, and went up as of 
old; and he embraced his mother, and Dictys his good 
foster-father, and they wept over each other a long while, 
for it was seven years and more since they had met. 

Perseus 25 

Then he went home to Argos, and reigned there well 
with fair Andromeda. But the will of the gods was 
accomplished towards Acrisius, his grandfather, for he 
died from the falling of a quoit which Perseus had 
thrown in a game. 

Perseus and Andromeda had four sons and three 
daughters, and died in a good old age. And 
when they died, the ancients say, Athene took them 
up into the sky, with Cepheus and Cassiopceia. 
And there on starlight nights you may see them shining 
still; Cepheus with his kingly crown, and Cassiopceia 
in her ivory chair, plaiting her star-spangled tresses, 
and Perseus with the Gorgon's head, and fair Andromeda 
beside him, spreading her long white arms across the 
heavens, as she stood when chained to the stone for the 
monster. All night long they shine, for a beacon to 
wandering sailors; but all day they feast with the gods, 
on the still blue peaks of Olympus. 



MANY, many years ago in the far-off land of Hellas, 
which we call Greece, lived a happy young 
couple whose names were Alcmene and Amphitryon. 
Now Amphitryon, the husband, owned many herds of 
cattle. So also the father of Alcmene, who was King of 
Mycenae, owned many. 

All these cattle grazing together and watering at the 
same springs became united in one herd. And this was 
the cause of much trouble, for Amphitryon fell to quarrel- 
ing with the father of his wife about his portion of the 
herd. At last he slew his father-in-law, and from that 
day he fled his old home at Mycenae. 

Alcmene went with her husband and the young couple 
settled at Thebes, where were born to them two boys — 
twins — which were later named Hercules and Iphicles. 

From the child's very birth Zeus, the King of all heaven 
that is the air and clouds, and the father of gods and 
men — from the boy's very birth Zeus loved Hercules. 
But when Hera, wife of Zeus, who shared his honours, saw 
this love she was angry. Especially she was angry be- 
cause Zeus foretold that Hercules should become the 
greatest of men. 

Therefore one night, when the two babies were but 
eight months old, Hera sent two huge serpents to destroy 
them. The children were asleep in the great shield of 

brass which Amphitryon carried in battle for his defence. 


Hercules 27 

It was a good bed, for it was round and curved toward 
the centre, and filled with soft blankets which Alcmene 
and the maids of the house had woven at their looms. 
Forward toward this shield the huge snakes were creeping, 
and just as they lifted their open mouths above the rim, 
and were making ready to seize them, the twins opened 
their eyes. Iphicles screamed with fright. His cries 
wakened their mother, Alcmene, who called in a loud 
voice for help. But before Amphitryon and the men of 
the household could draw their swords and rush to the 
rescue, the baby Hercules, sitting up in the shield un- 
terrified and seizing a serpent in each hand, had choked 
and strangled them till they died. 

From his early years Hercules was instructed in the 
learning of his time. Castor, the most experienced 
charioteer of his day, taught him, Eurytus also, how to 
shoot with a bow and arrows; Linus how to play upon the 
lyre; and Eumolpus, grandson of the North Wind, drilled 
him in singing. Thus time passed to his eighteenth 
year when, so great already had become his strength and 
knowledge, he killed a fierce lion which had preyed upon 
the flocks of Amphitryon while they were grazing on 
Mount Cithaeron, and which had in fact laid waste many 
a fat farm of the surrounding country. 

But the anger of Hera still followed Hercules, and the 
goddess sent upon him a madness. In this craze the 
hero did many unhappy deeds. For punishment and in 
expiation he condemned himself to exile, and at last he 
went to the great shrine of the god Apollo at Delphi to 
ask whither he should go and where settle. The Pythia, 
or priestess in the temple, desired him to settle at Tiryns, 
to serve as bondman to Eurystheus, who ruled at My- 
cenae as King, and to perform the great labours which 

28 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Eurystheus should impose upon him. When these tasks 
were all accomplished, the inspired priestess added, 
Hercules should be numbered among the immortal 


The first task which Eurystheus required of Hercules 
was to bring him the skin of a lion which no arrow nor 
other weapon could wound, and which had long been a 
terror to the good people who lived in Nemea. Hercules 
set forth armed with bow and quiver, but paused in the 
outer wood of Nemea long enough to cut himself his 
famous club. There too he fell in with an honest 
countryman who pledged him to make a sacrifice to Zeus, 
the saviour, if he, Hercules, should return victorious; but 
if he were slain by the monstrous lion, then the country- 
man should make the sacrifice a funeral offering to 
himself as a hero. 

So Hercules proceeded, far into a dense wood, deserted 
because all people feared the fierce beast it protected. 
On he went till after many days he sighted the lion at rest 
near the cave which was its den. Standing behind a 
tree of great girth, Hercules fitted and let fly an arrow. 
It struck and glanced, leaving the animal unharmed. 
Then he tried another shot, aiming at the heart. Again 
the arrow failed. But the lion was by this time roused, 
and his eyes shot fiery glances, and the heavy roar from 
his throat made the woods most horribly resound. Then 
the devoted Hercules seized his heavy wooden club, and 
rushing forward drove the lion by the suddenness and 
fierceness of his assault into his den. But the den had 
two entrances. Against one Hercules rolled huge stones, 

Hercules 29 

and entering the cave by the other he grasped the lion's 
throat with both hands, and thus held him struggling and 
gasping for breath till he lay at his feet dead. 

Hercules swung the mighty bulk upon his shoulders 
and proceeded to seek the countryman with whom his 
pledge stood. So great had been his journey, and so 
hard his search, that he did not find the good man till the 
last of the thirty days. There he stood just on the point 
of offering a sheep to Hercules, supposing him dead. To- 
gether they sacrificed the sheep to Zeus instead, and Her- 
cules, vigorous and victorious, bore the mighty lion's 
body to Eurystheus at Mycenae. 

Entering the place and throwing the carcass down be- 
fore the king, Hercules so terrified Eurystheus by this 
token of his wonderful strength that the King forbade him 
ever again to enter the city. Indeed some say that the 
terror of Eurystheus was so great that he had a jar or 
vessel of brass secretly constructed underground which 
he might use as a safe retreat in case of danger. This 
"jar" was probably a chamber and its walls covered 
within with plates of brass. For now in our own day is 
seen there at Mycenae a room under the earth, and the 
nails which fastened the brass plates to the wall still re- 
main. Ever after the conquest of this lion Hercules 
clothed himself with the skin. 



The second task of Hercules was to destroy a hydra or 
water snake which dwelt in the marsh of Lerna, a small 
lake near Mycenae. The body of this snake was large 
and from its body sprang nine heads. Eight of these 
heads were mortal, but the ninth head was undying. 

30 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Hercules stepped into his chariot and his dear nephew 
Iolaus, who was permitted by the Delphic priestess to 
drive for him, took up the reins. The way to Lerna was 
pleasant. In spring-time crocuses and hyacinths sprang 
by the roadside, and in early summer the nightingales 
sang in the olive groves, vineyard and forest. That so 
great and horrible a monster could be near! 

When Hercules and Iolaus came to Lerna they drew 
close to ground rising near a spring, and Hercules dis- 
mounting and searching found the very hole into which 
the hydra had retired. Into this he shot fiery arrows. 
The arrows discomforting the snake it crawled forth and, 
darting at him furiously, endeavoured to twine itself' 
about his legs. The hero began then to wield his 
mighty club. He crushed head after head upon the 
snake's body, but for every one crushed two sprang in its 

At length the hydra had coiled so firmly round 
one leg, that Hercules could not move an inch from the 
spot. And now an enormous crab came from the water 
out of friendship for the hydra, and that too crept up to 
Hercules and, seizing his foot, painfully wounded him. 

Swinging his club with heroic vigor Hercules beat the 
crab to death. Then he called to Iolaus to fire a little 
grove of trees near by. Iolaus at once set the fire, and 
when the saplings were well aflame he seized them and, 
standing by the hero, as fast as Hercules cut off a head 
of the hydra he seared the neck with a flaming brand. 
The searing prevented the heads from growing again. 
When all the eight mortal heads had thus been dispatched 
Hercules struck off the one said to be immortal and 
buried it in the roadway, setting a heavy stone above. 
The body of the hydra he cut up and dipped his arrows 


3 1 

in the gall, which was so full of poison that the least 
scratch from such an arrow would bring certain death. 

Eurystheus received the news of the destruction of the 
water snake with bad grace. He claimed that Hercules 
had not destroyed the monster alone, but only with the 
assistance of Iolaus. All the people, however, rejoiced 
greatly, and they hastened to drain the marsh where the 
hydra had dwelt so that never again could such an enemy 
abide upon their lands. 


In the days in which Hercules lived, Arcadia was a 
beautiful country of cool, sweet-scented woods, clear 
mountain streams, and sloping meadow-sides from which 
rose every now and then the roof of a hunter's cottage or 
a shepherd's hutch. It was a country also peculiarly 
pleasing to Artemis, the goddess of the chase, and pecu- 
liarly also it was the haunt of all animals especially dear 
to the goddess. 

A hind was there of such loveliness and grace 
that Artemis had marked her for her own, and given 
her a pair of golden horns so that she might be 
known from all other deer and her life thus preserved. 
For no good Hellen, or Greek, would slay for food any 
animal sacred to a god. This beautiful golden-horned 
hind Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring to him alive, 
for the irreverence of the King did not go so far as to de- 
mand her dead. 

So Hercules went forth for the hunting and, not 
wishing to wound the hind, pursued her for one en- 
tire year. Up hill he went, down many a mountain 
dale, across many a gleaming river, through deep forest 
and open field, and always dancing before him were the 

32 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

golden tips of horns of the hind — near enough to be seen, 
too far to be seized. At last tired with the pursuit the 
lovely beast one day took refuge upon a mountain side, 
and there as she sought the water of a river, Hercules 
struck her with an arrow. The wound was slight, but 
it helped the hero to catch the creature, and to lift her 
to his shoulders. Thereupon, he started for the 
court of Eurystheus. 

But the way was long, and it lay through a part of Ar- 
cadia where the bush washeavy,and forests were deep, and 
mountains were high, and while Hercules was pursuing 
his way and bearing his meek-eyed burden, he one day 
met the fair goddess to whom the hind was sacred. 
Her brother, the beautiful god Apollo, was with her. 

Artemis seeing her captured deer cried to the hero, 
"Mortal, oho! thus wilt thou violate a creature set aside 
by the gods?" "Mighty Artemis and huntress," an- 
swered Hercules, "this hind I know is thine. A twelve- 
month have I chased and at last caught her. But the 
god Necessity forced me ! Oh, immortal one, I am not 
impious. Eurystheus commanded me to catch the 
hind and the priestess of Apollo enjoined me to observe 
the King's command." 

When Artemis understood how Hercules was bond- 
man she dismissed her anger, and sent him forward with 
kind words, and thus he brought the golden-horned hind 
to Mycenae and sent it in to the King. 


In the northwestern part of the famed Arcadia where 
the golden-horned hind roamed was a range of mountains 
called Erymanthus. Over the high tops of this range 

Hercules 33 

wandered also a wild beast, but unlike the lovely hind he 
was fierce and terrible of aspect and deadly in encounter. 
He was known as the boar of Erymanthus. This tusked 
and terrible being the King of Mycenae, Eurystheus, 
commanded the mighty Hercules, his bondman, to bring 
alive to him. 

Again Hercules set out, and again he fared over hill 
and across bright waters, and as he went the birds sang 
spring songs to him from vine and tree shade, and yellow 
crocuses carpeted the earth. In his journey he came 
one day to the home of Pholus, a centaur, who dwelt 
with other centaurs upon the side of a mountain. Now 
the centaurs were, of all the dwellers of that distant land, 
most unlike us modern folks. For report has it that they 
were half that noble creature man, and half that noble 
creature horse : that is to say, they were men as far as the 
waist, and then came the body of the horse with its swift 
four feet. There are those, indeed, who claim that the 
centaurs were men and rode their mountain ponies so 
deftly that man and horse seemed one whole creature. 
Be that as it may, upon this mountain side the centaur 
Pholus dwelt with others of his kind, and there to visit 
with him came Hercules. 

The centaur with his hospitable heart and own hands 
prepared a dinner of roast meat for the hungry traveller, 
and as they sat at the board in genial converse they had 
much enjoyment. But Hercules was also thirsty, and 
the sparkling water from the mountain spring seemed 
not to satisfy him. He asked the centaur for wine. 
"Ah, wine, my guest-friend Hercules," answered Pholus, 
"I have none of my own. Yonder is a jar of old vintage, 
but it belongs to all the centaurs of our mountain and I 
cannot open it." "But friend Pholus," said Hercules 

34 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

pressingly, "I would I had a little for my stomach's 

Now the centaur had a kind heart as we have said, and 
he rejoiced that Hercules had come, and to give the hero 
his desires he opened the jar. The wine was made from 
grapes that grew under the fair skies of Arcadia and its 
fragrance was like a scent of lilies or of roses, and when 
the soft winds entered the door, near which Hercules sat 
drinking, it seized the perfume and bore it over the moun- 
tain side. Now hear of all the mischief a little wine may 

The fragrance in the air told the centaurs, wherever 
each happened to be, that their wine jar had been opened, 
and they rushed to its resting place perhaps to defend it 
from any wayfaring thief, perhaps to help drink it, we do 
not know. But each came angrily to the mouth of the 
cave of Pholus and all were armed with stones and staves 
which they had seized as they hastened onward. When 
they first entered with raging cries and threatening gesture 
Hercules grasped the brands burning on the hospitable 
hearth and drove them back. As others pressed behind 
them the hero drew forth his arrows poisoned with the 
gall of the Lernean hydra, and sent among them many a 
shaft. Thus they fought retreating and, they fleeing 
and Hercules pursuing, came finally to the dwelling of 
Chiron, most famed of all the centaurs and a teacher of 
Hercules in his youth, teacher of his great art of surgery. 

The wine raging in the veins of Hercules made him 
for the moment forgetful of all the good Chiron had 
bestowed upon him, and still letting fly his poisonous 
arrows he, aiming at another, hit the noblest of the cen- 
taurs. Grief seized Hercules when he saw what he had 
done and he ran and drew out the arrow and applied a 



soft ointment which Chiron himself had taught him to 
make. But it was in vain, for the centaur, inspiring 
teacher and famed for his love of justice as he was, soon 
gave up the ghost. 

Saddened at his own madness Hercules now returned 
to the cave of his guest-friend Pholus. There among 
others his host lay, and stark dead. He had drawn an 
arrow from the body of one who had died from its wound, 
and, while examining it and wondering how so slight a 
shaft could be so fatal, had accidentally dropped it out of 
his hand. It struck his foot and he expired that very 

Hercules paid all funeral honour to his friends and 
afterward departing from the unhappy neighbourhood 
took up his search of the boar. 

Heavy snows were lying on the crests of Erymanthus 
when Hercules came upon the tracks of the wild creature, 
and following patiently finally reached his lair. There 
the boar stood, his tusks pointed outward ready for at- 
tack, his eyes snapping vindictively. He was indeed a 
terrible thing to see. 

Hercules, instead of shooting at the animal, began to 
call, and shouting with loud cries he so confused the 
boar that he ran into the vast snowdrift standing near 
by. Thereupon the hero seized and bound him with 
a wild grapevine he had brought for the purpose. 
And so swinging him over his shoulder he took his way 
toward Mycenae. 

The King Eurystheus was terribly frightened at the 
very prospect of having the boar to keep, and when 
he heard Hercules was coming to town with the animal 
on his shoulders he took to the brazen underground 
chamber, which he had built, when Hercules came in 

36 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

with the body of the Nemean lion. There he stayed 
for several days, according to a good old historian, 
Diodorus, who in writing of the King told that he 
was so great a coward. 


Although Eurystheus was siezed with tremor at the 
coming of Hercules with the Erymanthian boar, still he 
continued relentless, and demanded the performance 
of the next task, which was nothing less than the cleaning 
out in one day of stables where numerous cattle had been 
confined for many years. These noisome stalls belonged 
to Augeas, a King of Elis and a man rich in herds — so 
rich indeed that as the years passed and his cattle in- 
creased he could not find men enough to care for his 
kine and their house. Thus the animals had continued, 
and had so littered their abiding place that it had become 
well nigh intolerable and a source of disease and even of 
pestilence to the people. 

When Hercules came to King Augeas he said nothing 
to him of the command Eurystheus had laid upon him, 
but looking through the stables which covered a space of 
many meadows he spoke of the cattle and the evil con- 
dition of their housing. "The moon-eyed kine will do 
better in clean stables," said the wise Hercules, "and if 
thou wilt pledge me a tenth of thy herds I will clean out 
thy stalls in a day." To this Augeas delightedly agreed 
and, speaking as they were in the presence of the young 
son of the King, Hercules called upon the prince to 
witness the pact. 

Now Hercules in going about the great stables had 
noticed that at the upper end of their building flowed 

Hercules 37 

a swift river, and at the lower end was a second swift 
stream. When therefore Angeas had pledged himself 
to the work, Hercules, beginning early next day, took 
down the walls at the upper end of the stalls and the walls 
at the lower end. Then with his own mighty hands he 
dug channels and canals and led the waters of the upper 
swift-flowing river into the heavily littered floor of the 
stalls. And the waters rose and pushed the litter before 
them and made one channel into the lower river, and 
then another and another and so, working through the 
hours of the day, the upper river scoured the stables 
clean and carried the refuse to the lower river. And 
the lower river took the burden and carried it out to the 
salt sea, which is ever and always cleaning and purifying 
whatever comes to its waters. And when night fell 
there stood the hero Hercules looking at his work — the 
filthy stables of Augeas cleaned. 

When next day Hercules asked for the tenth of the 
herds which the King had pledged, Augeas refused to 
stand by his agreement. He had learned that this labour 
of cleaning his stables had been imposed upon Hercules, 
and he claimed he should pay nothing for it; in fact, he 
denied he had promised anything, and offered to lay the 
matter before judges. The cause therefore was tried, 
and at the trial the young son of the King, who had 
witnessed the pact, testified to the truth of Hercules' 
claim. This so enraged his father that in most high- 
handed manner he banished both his son and 
the hero from Elis without waiting for the judg- 
ment of the court. Hercules returned to Mycenae. 
But again the cowardly and contemptible Eurystheus 
refused to count this labour, saying Hercules had done 
it for hire. 

38 Heroes Every Child Should Know 


Far in the famed land of Arcadia is a beautiful lake 
known so many years ago, as in the time of Hercules, and 
even by us in our day, as Lake Stymphalus. It is a lake 
of pure sweet water and it lies, as such waters lie in our 
own country, high up in mountains and amid hillsides 
covered with firs and poplars and clinging vines and wild 

In our day the lake is a resort for gentle singing birds, 
but in the time of Hercules other birds were there also. 
The other birds were water fowls, and they had gathered 
at Lake Stymphalus because they had been driven out of 
their old home by wolves, who alone were hungrier and 
more destructive than they. These fowls had claws of 
iron, and every feather of theirs was sharper than a 
barbed arrow, and so strong and fierce and ravenous they 
were that they would dart from the air and attack hunters, 
yea, and pecking them down would tear and strip their 
flesh till but a bony skeleton remained of that which a few 
minutes before had been a strong, active, buoyant man 
seeking in the chase food for his hearthside. 

To make way with this horrid tribe of the air was the 
sixth command Eurystheus laid upon Hercules. To- 
ward Lake Symphalus therefore turned our hero. Again 
he walked Arcadian waysides, and again as he fared the 
spring sun shone above, and the birds sang welcome, and 
the narcissus lifted its golden cup, and as he went his heart 
rejoiced in his life, whatever the difficulty of his labour, 
and in the beauty of the world before his eyes. And as 
he walked also he thought of how he should accomplish 
the great undertaking upon which he was bent. 

Hercules 39 

While thus deliberating the grey-eyed goddess of wisdom, 
Atheiie\ came to him — just as this goddess even in our 
day comes to those who think — and she suggested to his 
mind that he should scare the fowl from their retreat by 
brazen rattles. The goddess did even more than put 
the notion of using a rattle in the mind of Hercules. It 
is said she actually brought him one, a huge, bronze 
clapper made for him by the forger of the gods, limping 

Hercules took this rattle and mounting a neighbouring 
height shook it in his great hands till every hill echoed 
and the very trees quivered with the horrid sound. And 
the man-eating birds ? Not one remained hidden. Each 
and every one rose terrified in the air, croaking and work- 
ing its steely talons and sharp-pointed feathers in dire 

Now from his quiver the hero fast picked his barbed 
arrows, and fast he shot and every shot brought to his 
feet one of the terrible man-eaters, till at last he had slain 
every one. Or, if indeed, any of the tribe had escaped, 
they had flown far away, for never after, in all the long 
history of Lake Stymphalus, have such creatures ap- 
peared again above its fair waters. 

So ended the sixth labour of Hercules. 


Just as Zeus who, as we said in the beginning, was King 
of all heaven that is the air and clouds, so Posidon was 
King of the sea. With his queen, Amphitrite, he lived 
far down underneath the waves, and dwelt in a palace 
splendid with all the beautiful things of the deep. 

In the midst of the blue waters of the Mediterranean 
where Posidon had his home, lies an island called Crete, 

40 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and long ago in the days when Hercules laboured, a King, 
whose name was Minos, ruled over this land. The 
island is long and narrow and has much sea coast, and 
because of this fact King Minos stood in intimate relations 
with the god of the sea. 

Now one day in an especial burst of friendliness, Minos 
vowed to sacrifice to Posidon whatever should come out of 
the salt waters. The god in pleasure at the vow, and to 
test mayhap the devotion of Minos, sent at once a beauti- 
ful bull leaping and swimming through the waves. When 
the creature had come to the rocky coast and made land, 
its side shone with such beauty, and its ivory-white horns 
garlanded with lilies set so like a crown above its graceful 
head that Minos and all the people who saw it mar- 
velled that anywhere could have grown such a bull. 
And a sort of greed and deceit seized Minos as he gazed, 
and for his sacrifice to Posidon he resolved to use another 
bull. And so he ordered his herdsman to take this fair 
creature that had come from the sea and to put it among 
his herd, and also to bring forth another for the offering. 

Because of this avarice of Minos the god below the 
waves was angry and he made the bull wild and furious, 
so that no herdsman dared approach to feed or care for it. 
For his seventh task Eurystheus commanded Hercules to 
fetch him this mad bull of Crete. 

Hercules accordingly boarded one of the ships that 
plied in that far-off day, as well as in this time of ours, 
between the rocky coast of Crete and the fair land of 
Hellas, and in due time the hero came to Minos' court. 
"I have come, sire," said Hercules, "for the mad bull 
that terrifies thy herdsmen and is rumoured beyond 
capture." "Ay, young man," cried the king, "thou hast 
come for my bull and my bull shalt thou have. When 

Hercules 41 

thou hast taken it, it is thine," and the King laughed 
grimly, for the strength and fury of the creature he deemed 
beyond any man's control. 

Hercules sought the grove where Posidon's gift had 
strayed from its fellows, and there deftly seizing it by 
the horns, he bound its feet with stout straps of bull's 
hide and its horns he padded with moss of the sea from 
which it came, and so having made it powerless he lifted 
it to his shoulders and carried it to the shore. A swift 
black ship was just spreading sail from Crete, and enter- 
ing upon it the hero soon ended his journey and laid his 
capture before Eurystheus. 

A day or two later Hercules loosed the bull, which, 
after wandering through the woodlands of Arcadia, 
crossed the isthmus and came to the plains of Marathon, 
whence, after doing much damage, it swam off to sea and 
was never heard of after. 

So far we have told how Hercules accomplished seven 
of the tasks laid upon him. Space does not permit us to 
recount in detail the other five. The eighth task was to 
bring to Eurystheus the man-eating mares of the King of 
Windy Thrace. The ninth task was to fetch a girdle 
which Ares, god of war, had given the Queen of the 
Amazons — an exceedingly difficult labour, for the Ama- 
zons were a nation of women-warriors renowned for 
valour. For the tenth task Eurystheus demanded the 
purple oxen of a famous giant who dwelt on an island far 
out in the ocean. The eleventh task was to bring apples 
from the garden of the Hesperides — golden apples 
guarded by a dragon with a hundred heads, no one of 
which ever closed its eyes in sleep. And the twelfth and 
last task, which was to free, the mighty Hercules from his 

42 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

bondage to cowardly Eurystheus, was to fetch Cerberus, 
the three-headed dog, who guarded the entrance to 
Hades, the unseen abode of departed spirits. 

Each and every one of these labours the strong hero 
accomplished. Having won his freedom and gained the 
honours promised by the priestess at Delphi many years 
before, Hercules worked many a noble deed and finally 
in reward for his much enduring and his aid to mortals, he 
was carried upon a thunder cloud to the upper air, and 
entered into the very gates of heaven. 



IT PLEASED Darius to set over the kingdom an 
hundred and twenty princes, which should be over 
the whole kingdom. 

And over these three presidents ; of whom Daniel was 
first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and 
the King should have no damage. 

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents 
and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him ; and 
the King thought to set him over the whole realm. 

Then the presidents and princes sought to find oc- 
casion against Daniel concerning the kingdom ; but they 
could find none occasion nor fault ; forasmuch as he was 
faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 

Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion 
against this Daniel, except we find it against him con- 
cerning the law of his God. 

Then these presidents and princes assembled together 
to the King, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live 
for ever. 

All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and 
the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have con- 
sulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make 
a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any 
god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O King, he shall 
be cast into the den of lions. 

Now, O King, establish the decree, and sign the writ* 

44 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

ing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the 
Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 

Wherefore King Darius signed the writing and the 

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, 
he went into his house; and his windows being open in 
his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his 
knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks 
before his God, as he did aforetime. 

Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying 
and making supplication before his God. 

Then they came near, and spake before the King con- 
cerning the King's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, 
that every man that shall ask a petition of any god or 
man within thirty days, save of thee, O King, shall be cast 
into the den of lions? The King answered and said, 
The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and 
Persians, which altereth not. 

Then answered they and said before the King, 
That Daniel, which is of the children of the cap- 
tivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O King, nor the 
decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition 
three times a day. 

Then the King, when he heard these words, was sore 
displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to 
deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the 
sun to deliver him. 

Then these men assembled unto the King, and said unto 
the King, Know, O King, that the law of the Medes and 
Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the King 
establisheth may be changed. 

Then the King commanded, and they brought Daniel, 
and cast him into the den of lions. Now the King spake 

Daniel 45 

and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest con- 
tinually, he will deliver thee. 

And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of 
the den ; and the King sealed it with his own signet, and 
with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not 
be changed concerning Daniel. 

Then the King went to his palace, and passed the 
night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought 
before him : and his sleep went from him. 

Then the King arose very early in the morning, and 
went in haste unto the den of lions. 

And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamen- 
table voice unto Daniel: and the King spake and said to 
Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, 
whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from 
the lie is? 

Then said Daniel unto the King, O King, live for ever. 

My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' 
mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as be- 
fore him innocency was found in me: and also before 
thee, O King, have I done no hurt. 

Then was the King exceeding glad for him, and com- 
manded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. 
So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner 
of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his 



NOW the Philistines gathered together their 
armies to battle, and were gathered together 
at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched 
between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. 

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, 
and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in 
array against the Philistines. 

And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one 
side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side; 
and there was a valley between them. 

And there went out a champion out of the camp of 
the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gaih, whose height 
was six cubits and a span. 

And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he 
was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the 
coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 

And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target 
of brass between his shoulders. 

And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; 
and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of 
iron; and one bearing a shield went before him. 

And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and 
said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle 
in array ? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul ? 
choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. 

If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will 
4 6 

David 47 

we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and 
kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. 

And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel 
this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 

When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the 
Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. 

Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Beth- 
lehem-judah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight 
sons: and the man went among men for an old man in 
the days of Saul. 

And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed 
Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that 
went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto 
him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 

And David was the youngest: and the three eldest 
followed Saul. 

But David went and returned from Saul to feed his 
father's sheep at Bethlehem. 

And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, 
and presented himself forty days. 

And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy 
brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten 
loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; 

And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their 
thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their 

Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in 
the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 

And David rose up early in the morning, and left the 
sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had 
commanded him ; and he came to the trench, as the host 
was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the 

48 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in 
array army against army. 

And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of 
the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted 
his brethren. 

And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the 
champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out 
of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to 
the same words; and David heard them. 

And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled 
from him, and were sore afraid. 

And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man 
that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up; 
and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the King 
will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his 
daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. 

And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, 
What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, 
and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is 
this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the 
armies of the living God? 

And the people answered him after this manner, 
saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth 

And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto 
the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, 
and he said, Why earnest thou down hither? and with 
whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? 
I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; 
for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 

And David said, What have I now done? Is there 
not a cause ? 

And he turned from him toward another, and spake 

David 49 

after the same manner: and the people answered him 
again after the former manner. 

And when the words were heard which David spake, 
they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. 

And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail be- 
cause of him; thy servant will go and fight with this 

And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against 
this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, 
and he a man of war from his youth. 

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's 
sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a 
lamb out of the flock: 

And I went out after him, and smote him, and de- 
livered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against 
me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew 

Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear : and this 
uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing 
he hath defied the armies of the living God. 

David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out 
of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, 
he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And 
Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. 

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put 
an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him 
with a coat of mail. 

And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he 
essayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David 
said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not 
proved them. And David put them off him. 

And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five 
smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shep- 

50 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

herd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling 
was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. 

And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; 
and the man that bore the shield went before him. 

And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, 
he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, 
and of a fair countenance. 

And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that 
thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine 
cursed David by his gods. 

And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I 
will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the 
beasts of the field. 

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me 
with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but 
I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God 
of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 

This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; 
and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; 
and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines 
this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts 
of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a 
God in Israel. 

And all this assembly shall know that the Lord 
saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the 
Lord's and He will give you into our hands. 

And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and 
came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, 
and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 

And David put his hand to his bag, and took thence 
a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his fore- 
head, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell 
upon his face to the earth. 

Dj,vid 51 

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and 
with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; 
but there was no sword in the hand of David. 

Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, 
and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, 
and slew him, and cutoff his head therewith. And when 
the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. 

And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, 
and pursued the Philistines, until thou comest to the val- 
ley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of 
the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even 
unto Gath, and unto Ekron. 

And the children of Irsael returned from chasing after 
the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents. 

And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought 
it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent. 

And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philis- 
tine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, 
whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul 
liveth, O King, I cannot tell. 

And the King said, Enquire thou whose son the strip- 
ling is. 

And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philis- 
tine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with 
the head of the Philistine in his hand. 

And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young 
man ? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant 
Jesse the Bethlehemite. 



IN THE year 280, in a town in Cappadocia, was 
born that great soldier and champion of the op- 
pressed whom we call St. George. His parents were 
Christians, and by them, and especially by his mother, 
he was most carefully instructed and trained. 

When the youth came to the age of seventeen years he 
took up the profession of arms, and since he was gifted 
with beauty of person, intelligence, and an exquisite 
courtesy, he rose rapidly to a considerable military rank. 
Especially he pleased his imperial master, Diocletian. 

One day while the Emperor, who was devoted to the 
worship of Apollo, was consulting at a shrine of that god 
upon an affair of much importance, from the dark depths 
of the cavern came forth a voice saying, "The just who 
are on the earth keep me from telling the truth. By them 
the inspiration of the Sacred Tripod is made a lie." At 
once the Emperor was stricken with consternation and 
asked who these just people were. "Master," answered 
one of the priests of Apollo, "they are the Christians." 
This answer so enraged Diocletian that he rekindled his 

Now from the first the young soldier George had 
burned with indignation because of the unspeakable 
cruelties put upon Christians, and he had spoken out 
boldly in defence of his brethren. His friends had 
counselled silence and prudence. But George would 


St. George 53 

have none. He knew, however, that he might be called 
upon to suffer at any time, and he hoped to do better 
work for the world and to die after braver effort. He 
therefore distributed his money and his fine apparel 
among the poor and needy, set free all the slaves he 
possessed, and went forth upon knightly travel. 

While pricking one day through the plains of Libya he 
came to a certain city called Silene, the people of which 
were bewailing a dire misfortune that had come upon them. 
An enormous dragon had issued from a marsh neighbour- 
ing the town and had devoured all their flocks and herds. 
Already the monster had taken dwelling near the city 
walls, and at such distance the people had been able to 
keep him only by granting him two sheep every day for 
bis food and drink. If they had failed in this he would 
have come within their walls and poisoned every man, 
woman, and child with his plague-like breath. 

But now already all the flocks and herds had been eaten. 
Nothing remained to fill the insatiable maw of the dragon 
but the little people of the homes and hearths of all the 
town. Every day two children were now given him. 
Each child taken was under the age of fifteen, and was 
chosen by lot. Thus it happened that every house 
and every street and all the public squares echoed with 
the wailing of unhappy parents and the cries of the in- 
nocents who were soon to be offered. 

Now it chanced that the King of the city had one 
daughter, an exceeding fair girl both in mind and body, 
and after many days of the choosing of lots for the sacri- 
fice, and after many a blooming girl and boy had met an 
unhappy death, the lot fell to this maiden, Cleodolinda. 
When her father, the King, heard his misfortune, in his 
despair he offered all the gold in the state treasury and 

54 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

even half his kingdom, to redeem the maiden. But at 
this many fathers and mothers who had lost their children 
murmured greatly and said, "OKing, art thou just? 
By thy edict thou hast made us desolate. And now be- 
hold thou wouldst withhold thine own child!" 

Thus the people spake, and speaking they waxed 
wroth greatly, and so joining together they marched 
threatening to burn the King in his palace unless he de- 
livered the maiden to fulfil her lot. To such demands 
the King perforce submitted, and at last he asked only a 
delay of eight days which he might spend with the lovely 
girl and bewail her fate. This the people granted. 

At the end of the time agreed to the fair victim was led 
forth. She fell at her father's feet asking his blessing 
and protesting she was ready to die for her people. Then 
amid tears and lamentations she was led to the walls and 
put without. The gates were shut and barred against 

She walked towards the dwelling of the dragon, slowly 
and painfully, for the road was strewn with the bones of 
her playmates, and she wept as she went on her way. 

It was this very morning that George, courageously 
seeking to help the weak, and strong to serve the truth, 
was passing by in his knightly journeying. He saw 
stretched before him the noisome path, and, moved to 
see so beautiful a maiden in tears, he checked his charger 
and asked her why she wept. The whole pitiful story 
she recounted, to which the valiant one answered, "Fear 
not; I will deliver you." 

"Oh noble youth," cried the fair victim, "tarry not 
here lest you perish with me. Fly, I beseech you." 

"God forbid that I should fly," said George in answer-, 
'I will lift my hand against this loathly thing, and I 

St. George 55 

will deliver you through the power that lives in all true 
followers of Christ." 

At that moment the dragon was seen coming forth from 
his lair half flying and half crawling towards them. "Fly, 
I beseech you, brave knight," cried the fair girl trembling, 
"Leave me here to die." 

But George answered not. Rather he put spurs to 
his horse and, calling upon his Lord, rushed towards the 
monster, and, after a terrible and prolonged combat, 
pinned the mighty hulk to the earth with his lance. 
Then he called to the maiden to bring him her girdle. 
With this be bound the dragon fast, and gave the end 
of the girdle into her hand, and the subdued monster 
crawled after them like a dog. 

Walking in this way they approached the city. All the 
onlooking people were stricken with terror, but George 
called out to them saying, "Fear nothing. Only believe in 
Christ, through whose help I have conquered this ad- 
versary, and live in accord with His teachings, and I will 
destroy him before your eyes." 

So the King and the people believed and such a life they 
endeavoured to live. 

Then St. George slew the dragon and cut off his head, 
and the King gave great treasure to the knight. But all 
the rewards George distributed among the sick and 
necessitous and kept nothing for himself, and then he 
went further on his way of helpfulness. 

About this time the Emperor Diocletian issued an 
edict which was published the length and breadth of his 
empire. This edict was nailed to the doors of temples, 
upon the walls of public markets, in all places people 
frequented, and those who read it read it with terror and 
hid their faces in despair. For it condemned all Chris* 

56 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

tians. But St. George when he saw the writing was filled 
with indignation. That spirit and courage which comes 
to all of us from communion with the eternal powers 
heartened and strengthened him, and he tore down the 
unhappy utterance and trampled it under foot. 

Thus prepared for death George approached the 
Emperor. "What wouldst thou?" cried Diocletian 
angrily, having heard from his proconsul Dacian that this 
young man deserved torture. "Liberty, sir, for the in- 
nocent Chirstians," answered the martyr. "At the least 
liberty, since their liberty can hurt no one." 

"Young man," returned Diocletian with threatening 
looks, "think of thine own liberty and thy future." 

Before George could make answer the ill-will of the 
tyrant waxed to ardent hatred and he summoned guards 
to take the martyr to prison. Once within the dungeon 
the keepers threw him to the ground, put his feet in stocks 
and placed a stone of great weight upon his chest. But 
even so, in the midst of torture, the blessed one ceased 
not to give thanks to God for this opportunity to bear 
witness to Christ's teachings. 

The next day they stretched the martyr on a wheel full 
of sharp spokes. But a voice from heaven came to com- 
fort him and said, "George, fear not; so it is with those 
who witness to the truth." And there appeared to him 
an angel brighter than the sun, clothed in a white robe, 
who stretched out a hand to embrace and encourage him 
in his pain. Two of the officers of the prison who saw 
this beautiful vision became Christians and from that day 
endeavoured to live after the teachings of Christ. 

There is still another tale that after George had been 
comforted by the angel who descended from heaven, his 
tormentors flung him into a cauldron of boiling lead, and 

St. George 57 

when they believed they had subdued him by the force of 
his agonies, they brought him to a temple to assist in 
their worship, and the people ran in crowds to behold his 
humiliation, and the priests mocked him. 

The Emperor, seeing the constancy of George, once 
more sought to move him by entreaties. But the great 
soldier refused to be judged by words, only by deeds. He 
even demanded to go to see the gods Diocletian himself 

The Emperor, believing that at length George was 
coming to his right mind, and was about to yield, ordered 
the Roman Senate and people to assemble in order that 
all might be witnesses of George's acknowledgement of 
his own, Diocletian's, gods. 

When they were thus gathered together in the Em- 
peror's temple, and the eyes of all the people were fixed 
upon the weak and tortured saint to see what he would 
do, he drew near a statue of the sun-god Apollo, and 
stretching out his hand toward the image he said slowly, 
"Wouldst thou that I should offer thee sacrifices as to a 
god?" The demon who was in the statue made an- 
swer, "I am not God. There is but one God and 
Christ is his greatest prophet." At that very hour were 
heard horrible wailing sounds coming from the mouths 
of idols the world over, and the statues of the old gods 
either all fell over or crumbled to dust. One account 
says that St. George knelt down and prayed, and thunder 
and lightning from heaven fell upon the idols and de- 
stroyed them. 

Angry at the breaking of their power, the priests of the 
gods cried to the Emperor that he must rid himself of 
so potent a magician and cut off his head. The priests 
also incited the people to lay hands on the martyr. 

58 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

So it was commanded that George, the Christian 
knight, should be beheaded. He was dragged to the 
place of execution, and there, bending his neck to the 
sword of the executioner and absorbed in prayer, he 
received bravely and thankfully the stroke of death in 
April, 303. 

So stands St. George ever before the youth of the 
world, one of the champions of Christendom, a model of 
courage, a brave interceder for the oppressed, an ex- 
ample of pure, firm and enduring doing for others, a true 
soldier of Christ. 



LONG years ago, there ruled over Britain a King 
called Uther Pendragon. A mighty prince was he, 
and feared by all men ; yet, when he sought the love of 
the fair Igraine of Cornwall, she would have naught to 
do with him, so that, from grief and disappointment, 
Uther fell sick, and at last seemed like to die. 

Now in those days, there lived a famous magician 
named Merlin, so powerful that he could change his form 
at will, or even make himself invisible; nor was there any 
place so remote but that he could reach it at once, merely 
by wishing himself there. One day, suddenly he stood 
at Uther's bedside, and said: "Sir King, I know thy 
grief, and am ready to help thee. Only promise to give 
me, at his birth, the son that shall be born to thee, and 
thou shalt have thy heart's desire." To this the King 
agreed joyfully, and Merlin kept his word: for he gave 
Uther the form of one whom Igraine had loved dearly, 
and so she took him willingly for her husband. 

When the time had come that a child should be born to 
the King and Queen, Merlin appeared before Uther to 
remind him of his promise; and Uther swore it should 
be as he had said. Three days later, a prince was born 
and, with pomp and ceremony, was christened by the 
name of Arthur; but immediately thereafter, the King 
commanded that the child should be carried to the postern- 
gate, there to be given to the old man who would be found 
waiting without, 


6o Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Not long after, Uther fell sick, and he knew that his 
end was come ; so, by Merlin's advice, he called together 
his knights and barons, and said to them: "My death 
draws near. I charge you, therefore, that ye obey my 
son even as ye have obeyed me ; and my curse upon him 
if he claim not the crown when he is a man grown." 
Then the King turned his face to the wall and died. 

Scarcely was Uther laid in his grave before disputes 
arose. Few of the nobles had seen Arthur or even heard 
of him, and not one of them would have been willing to 
be ruled by a child; rather, each thought himself fitted 
to be King, and, strengthening his own castle, made war 
on his neighbours until confusion alone was supreme 
and the poor groaned because there was none to help 

Now when Merlin carried away Arthur — for Merlin 
was the old man who had stood at the postern-gate — he 
had known all that would happen, and had taken the 
child to keep him safe from the fierce barons until he 
should be of age to rule wisely and well, and perform all 
the wonders prophesied of him. He gave the child to the 
care of the good knight Sir Ector to bring up with his 
son Kay, but revealed not to him that it was the son of 
Uther Pendragon that was given into his charge. 

At last, when years had passed and Arthur was grown 
a tall youth well skilled in knightly exercises, Merlin went 
to the Archbishop of Canterbury and advised him that 
he should call together at Christmas-time all the chief 
men of the realm to the great cathedral in London; 
"For," said Merlin, "there shall be seen a great marvel 
by which it shall be made clear to all men who is the 
lawful King of this land." The Archbishop did as Merlin 
counselled. Under pain of a fearful curse, he bade 

King Arthur 61 

barons and knights come to London to keep the feast, 
and to pray heaven to send peace to the realm. 

The people hastened to obey the Archbishop's com- 
mands, and, from all sides, barons and knights came 
riding in to keep the birth-feast of our Lord. And when 
they had prayed, and were coming forth from the ca- 
thedral, they saw a strange sight. There, in the open space 
before the church, stood, on a great stone, an anvil thrust 
through with a sword; and on the stone were written 
these words: "Whoso can draw forth this sword, is 
rightful King of Britain born." 

At once there were fierce quarrels, each man clamour- 
ing to be the first to try his fortune, none doubting his 
own success. Then the Archbishop decreed that each 
should make the venture in turn, from the greatest baron 
to the least knight, and each in turn, having put forth 
his utmost strength, failed to move the sword one inch, 
and drew back ashamed. So the Archbishop dismissed 
the company, and having appointed guards to watch 
over the stone, sent messengers through all the land to 
give word of great jousts to be held in London at Easter, 
when each knight could give proof of his skill and courage, 
and try whether the adventure of the sword was for him. 

Among those who rode to London at Easter was the 
good Sir Ector, and with him his son, Sir Kay, newly 
made a knight, and the young Arthur. When the morn- 
ing came that the jousts should begin, Sir Kay and Arthur 
mounted their horses and set out for the lists ; but before 
they reached the field, Kay looked and saw that he had 
left his sword behind. Immediately Arthur turned back 
to fetch it for him, only to find the house fast shut, for all 
were gone to view the tournament. Sore vexed was 
Arthur, fearing lest his brother Kay should lose his 

62 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

chance of gaining glory, till, of a sudden, he bethought 
him of the sword in the great anvil before the cathedral. 
Thither he rode with all speed, and the guards having 
deserted their post to view the tournament, there was 
none to forbid him the adventure. He leapt from his 
horse, seized the hilt, and instantly drew forth the 
sword as easily as from a scabbard; then, mount- 
ing his horse and thinking no marvel of what he 
had done, he rode after his brother and handed him 
the weapon. 

When Kay looked at it, he saw at once that it was the 
wondrous sword from the stone. In great joy he sought 
his father, and showing it to him, said: "Then must I 
be King of Britain." But Sir Ector bade him say how 
he came by the sword, and when Sir Kay told how Arthur 
had brought it to him, Sir Ector bent his knee to the boy, 
and said: "Sir, I perceive that ye are my King, and here 
I tender you my homage"; and Kay did as his father. 
Then the three sought the Archbishop, to whom they 
related all that had happened ; and he, much marvelling, 
called the people together to the great stone, and bade 
Arthur thrust back the sword and draw it forth again in 
the presence of all, which he did with ease. But an 
angry murmur arose from the barons, who cried that 
what a boy could do, a man could do; so, at the Arch- 
bishop's word, the sword was put back, and each man, 
whether baron or knight, tried in his turn to draw it 
forth, and failed. Then, for the third time, Arthur drew 
forth the sword. Immediately there arose from the 
people a great shout: "Arthur is King! Arthur is 
King! We will have no King but Arthur"; and, though 
the great barons scowled and threatened, they fell on 
their knees before him while the Archbishop placed the 

King Arthur 63 

crown upon his head, and swore to obey him faithfully 
as their lord and sovereign. 

Thus Arthur was made King ; and to all he did justice, 
righting wrongs and giving to all their dues. Nor was 
he forgetful of those that had been his friends ; for Kay, 
whom he loved as a brother, he made Seneschal and 
chief of his household, and to Sir Ector, his foster father, 
he gave broad lands. 

Thus Arthur was made King, but he had to fight for 
his own; for eleven great King sdrew together and re- 
fused to acknowledge him as their lord, and chief amongst 
the rebels was King Lot of Orknev who had married 
Arthur's sister, Bellicent. 

By Merlin's advice, Arthur sent for help overseas, to 
Ban and Bors, the two great Kings who ruled in Gaul. 
With their aid, he overthrew his foes in a great battle 
near the river Trent; and then he passed with them into 
their own lands and helped them drive out their enemies. 
So there was ever great friendship between Arthur and 
the Kings Ban and Bors, and all their kindred; and 
afterward some of the most famous Knights of the 
Round Table were of that kin. 

Then King Arthur set himself to restore order through- 
out his kingdom. To all who would submit and amend 
their evil ways, he showed kindness; but those who per- 
sisted in oppression and wrong he removed, putting in 
their places others who would deal justly with the people. 
And because the land had become overrun with forest 
during the days of misrule, he cut roads through the 
thickets, that no longer wild beasts and men, fiercer than 
the beasts, should lurk in their gloom, to the harm of the 
weak and defenceless. Thus it came to pass that soon 
the peasant ploughed his fields in safety, and where 

64 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

had been wastes, men dwelt again in peace and pros- 

Amongst the lesser Kings whom Arthur helped to re- 
build their towns and restore order, was King Leode- 
grance of Cameliard. Now Leodegrance had one fair 
child, his daughter Guenevere; and from the time that 
first he saw her, Arthur gave her all his love. So he 
sought counsel of Merlin, his chief adviser. Merlin 
heard the King sorrowfully, and he said: "Sir King, 
when a man's heart is set, he may not change. Yet had 
it been well if ye had loved another." 

So the King sent his knights to Leodegrance, to ask of 
him his daughter ; and Leodegrance consented, rejoicing 
to wed her to so good and knightly a King. With great 
pomp, the princess was conducted to Canterbury, and 
there the King met her, and they two were wed by the 
Archbishop in the great Cathedral, amid the rejoicings 
of the people. 

On that same day did Arthur found his Order of the 
Round Table, the fame of which was to spread through- 
out Christendom and endure through all time. Now 
the Round Table had been made for King Uther Pen- 
dragon by Merlin, who had meant thereby to set forth 
plainly to all men the roundness of the earth. After 
Uther died, King Leodegrance had possessed it; but 
when Arthur was wed, he sent it to him as a gift, and 
great was the King's joy at receiving it. One hundred 
and fifty knights might take their places about it, and 
for them Merlin made sieges, or seats. One hundred 
and twenty-eight did Arthur knight at that great feast; 
thereafter, if any sieges were empty, at the high festival 
of Pentecost new knights were ordained to fill them, and 
by magic was the name of each knight found inscribed, 

King Arthur 65 

in letters of gold, in his proper siege. One seat only- 
long remained unoccupied, and that was the Siege Peri- 
lous. No knight might occupy it until the coming of 
Sir Galahad; for, without danger to his life, none might 
sit there who was not free from all stain of sin. 

With pomp and ceremony did each knight take upon 
him the vows of true knighthood: to obey the King; 
to show mercy to all who asked it; to defend the weak; 
and for no worldly gain to fight in a wrongful cause : and 
all the knights rejoiced together, doing honour to Arthur 
and to his Queen. Then they rode forth to right the 
wrong and help the oppressed, and by their aid the 
King held his realm in peace, doing justice to all. 

Now, as time passed, King Arthur gathered into his 
Order of the Round Table knights whose peers shall 
never be found in any age; and foremost amongst them 
all was Sir Launcelot du Lac. Such was his strength that 
none against whom he laid lance in rest could keep the 
saddle, and no shield was proof against his sword dint; 
but for his courtesy even more than for his courage and 
strength, Sir Launcelot was famed far and near. Gentle 
he was and ever the first to rejoice in the renown of an- 
other; and in the jousts, he would avoid encounter with 
the young and untried knight, letting him pass to gain 
glory if he might. 

It would take a great book to record all the famous 
deeds of Sir Launcelot, and all his adventures. He was 
of Gaul, for his father, King Ban, ruled over Benwick; 
he was named Launcelot du Lac by the Lady of the Lake 
who reared him when his mother died. Early he won 
renown; then, when there was peace in his own land, he 
passed into Britain, to Arthur's Court, where the King 
received him gladly, and made him Knight of the Round 

66 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Table and took him for his trustiest friend. And so 
it was that, when Guenevere was to be brought to Canter- 
bury, to be married to the King, Launcelot was chief of 
the knights sent to wait upon her, and of this came the 
sorrow of later days. For, from the moment he saw her, 
Sir Launcelot loved Guenevere, for her sake remaining 
wifeless all his days, and in all things being her faithful 
knight. But busy-bodies and mischief-makers spoke 
evil of Sir Launcelot and the Queen, and from their talk 
came the undoing of the King and the downfall of his 
great work. But that was after long years, and after 
many true knights had lived their lives, honouring the 
King and Queen, and doing great deeds. 

Before Merlin passed from the world of men, he had 
uttered many marvellous prophesies, and one that boded 
ill to King Arthur; for he foretold that, in the days to 
come, a son of Arthur's sister should stir up bitter war 
against the King, and at last a great battle should be 
fought, when many a brave knight should find his doom. 

Now, among the nephews of Arthur, was one most dis- 
honourable; his name was Mordred. No knightly deed 
had he ever done, and he hated to hear the good report 
of others because he himself was a coward and envious. 
But of all the Round Table there was none that Mordred 
hated more than Sir Launcelot du Lac, whom all true 
knights held in most honour; and not the less did Mor- 
dred hate Launcelot that he was the knight whom Queen 
Guenevere had in most esteem. So, at last, his jealous 
rage passing all bounds, he spoke evil of the Queen and 
of Launcelot, saying that they were traitors to the King. 
Now Sir Gawain and Sir Gareth, Mordred's brothers, 
refused to give ear to these slanders, holding that Sir 
Launcelot, in his knightly service of the Queen, did 

King Arthur 67 

honour to King Arthur also; but by ill-fortune another 
brother, Sir Agravaine, had ill-will to the Queen, and 
professed to believe Mordred's evil tales. So the two 
went to King Arthur with their ill stories. 

Now when Arthur had heard them, he was wroth; for 
never would he lightly believe evil of any, and Sir Laun- 
celot was the knight whom he loved above all others. 
Sternly then he bade them begone and come no more to 
him with unproven tales against any, and, least of all, 
against Sir Launcelot and their lady, the Queen. 

The two departed, but in their hearts was hatred 
against Launcelot and the Queen, more bitter than ever 
for the rebuke they had called down upon themselves. 

Great was the King's grief. Despite all that Mordred 
could say, he was slow to doubt Sir Launcelot, whom he 
loved, but his mind was filled with forebodings ; and well 
he knew that their kin would seek vengeance on Sir 
Launcelot, and the noble fellowship of the Round Table 
be utterly destroyed. 

All too soon it proved even as the King had feared. 
Many were found to hold with Sir Mordred; some from 
envy of the honour and worship of the noble Sir Launce- 
lot ; and among them even were those who dared to raise 
their voice against the Queen herself, calling for judgment 
upon her as leagued with a traitor against the King, and 
as having caused the death of so many good knights. 
Now in those days the law was that if any one were 
accused of treason by witnesses, or taken in the act, that 
one should die the death by burning, be it man or woman, 
knight or churl. So then the murmurs grew to a loud 
clamour that the law should have its course, and that 
King Arthur should pass sentence on the Queen. Then 
was the King's woe doubled; "For," said he, "I sit as 

68 Heroes "Every Chili Should Know 

King to be a rightful judge and keep all the law ; where- 
fore I may not do battle for my own Queen, and now 
there is none other to help her." So a decree was issued 
that Queen Guenevere should be burnt at the stake out- 
side the walls of Carlisle. 

Forthwith, King Arthur sent for his nephew, Sir Ga- 
wain, and said to him: " Fair nephew, I give it in charge 
to you to see that all is done as has been decreed." But 
Sir Gawain answered boldly: "Sir King, never will I be 
present to see my lady the Queen die. It is of ill counsel 
that ye have consented to her death." Then the King 
bade Gawain send his two young brothers, Sir Gareth 
and Sir Gaheris, to receive his commands, and these he 
desired to attend the Queen to the place of execution. 
So Gareth made answer for both: "My Lord the King, 
we owe you obedience in all things, but know that it is 
sore against our wills that we obey you in this; nor will 
we appear in arms in the place where that noble lady 
shall die"; then sorrowfully they mounted their horses 
and rode to Carlisle. 

^ When the day appointed had come, the Queen was led 
forth to a place without the walls of Carlisle, and there 
she was bound to the stake to be burnt to death. Loud 
were her ladies' lamentations, and many a lord was found 
to weep at that grievous sight of a Queen brought so low; 
yet was there none who dared come forward as her cham- 
pion, lest he should be suspected of treason. As for 
Gareth and Gaheris, they could not bear the sight and 
stood with their faces covered in their mantles. Then, 
just as the torch was to be applied to the faggots, there 
was a sound as of many horses galloping, and the next 
instant a band of knights rushed upon the astonished 
throng, their leader cutting down all who crossed his path 

King Arthur 69 

Until he had reached the Queen, whom he lifted to his 
saddle and bore from the press. Then all men knew that 
it was Sir Launcelot, come knightly to rescue the Queen, 
and in their hearts they rejoiced. So with little hindrance 
they rode away, Sir Launcelot and all his kin with the 
Queen in their midst, till they came to the castle of the 
Joyous Garde where they held the Queen in safety and 
all reverence. 

At last Sir Launcelot desired of King Arthur assurance 
of liberty for the Queen, as also safe conduct for him- 
self and his knights, that he might bring Dame Guen- 
evere, with due honour, to the King at Carlisle; and 
thereto the King pledged his word. 

So Launcelot set forth with the Queen, and behind 
them rode a hundred knights arrayed in green velvet, 
the housings of the horses of the same all studded with 
precious stones; thus they passed through the city of 
Carlisle, openly, in the sight of all, and there were 
many who rejoiced that the Queen was come again and 
Sir Launcelot with her, though they of Gawain's party 
scowled upon him. 

When they were come into the great hall where Arthur 
sat, with Sir Gawain and other great lords about him, Sir 
Launcelot led Guenevere to the throne and both knelt be- 
fore the King; then, rising, Sir Launcelot lifted the 
Queen to her feet, and thus he spoke to King Arthur, 
boldly and well before the whole court: "My lord, Sir 
Arthur, I bring you here your Queen, than whom no 
truer nor nobler lady ever lived; and here stand I, Sir 
Launcelot du Lac, ready to do battle with any that 
dare gainsay it"; and with these words Sir Launcelot 
turned and looked upon the lords and knights present 
in their places, but none would challenge him in that 

•jo Heroes Every Child Should Know 

cause, not even Sir Gawain, for he had ever affirmed 
that Dame Guenevere was a true and honourable lady. 

Then Sir Launcelot spoke again; "Now, my Lord 
Arthur, in my own defence it behooves me to say that 
never in aught have I been false to you." 

"Peace," said the King to Sir Launcelot: "We give 
you fifteen days in which to leave this kingdom." Then 
Sir Launcelot sighed heavily and said: "Full well I see 
that nothing availeth me." Then he went to the Queen 
where she sat, and said: "Madam, the time is come when 
I must leave this fair realm that I have loved. Think 
well of me, I pray you, and send for me if ever there be 
aught in which a true knight may serve lady." There- 
with he turned him about and, without greeting to any, 
passed through the hall, and with his faithful knights rode 
to the Joyous Garde, though ever thereafter, in memory 
of that sad day, he called it the Dolorous Garde. 

In after times when the King had passed overseas to 
France, leaving Sir Mordred to rule Britain in his stead, 
there came messengers from Britain bearing letters for 
King Arthur; and more evil news than they brought 
might not well be, for they told how Sir Mordred had 
usurped his uncle's realm. First, he had caused it to be 
noised abroad that King Arthur was slain in battle with 
Sir Launcelot, and, since there be many ever ready to 
believe any idle rumour and eager for any change, it 
had been no hard task for Sir Mordred to call the lords 
to a Parliament and persuade them to make him King. 
But the Queen could not be brought to believe that her 
lord was dead, so she took refuge in the Tower of London 
from Sir Mordred's violence, nor was she to be induced 
to leave her strong refuge for aught that Mordred could 
promise or threaten. 

King Arthur 71 

Forthwith, King Arthur bade his host make ready to 
move, and when they had reached the coast, they em- 
barked and made sail to reach Britain with all possible 

Sir Mordred, on his part, had heard of their sailing, 
and hasted to get together a great army. It was grievous 
to see how many a stout knight held by Mordred, ay, 
even many whom Arthur himself had raised to honour and 
fortune; for it is the nature of men to be fickle. Thus 
is was that, when Arthur drew near to Dover, he found 
Mordred with a mighty host, waiting to oppose his land- 
ing. Then there was a great sea-fight, those of Mordred's 
party going out in boats, to board King Arthur's ships 
and slay him and his men or ever they should come to 
land. Right valiantly did King Arthur bear him, as was 
his wont, and boldly his followers fought in his cause, so 
that at last they drove off their enemies and landed at 
Dover in spite of Mordred and his array. 

Now, by this time, many that Mordred had cheated 
by his lying reports, had drawn unto King Arthur, to 
whom at heart they had ever been loyal, knowing him 
for a true and noble King and hating themselves for 
having been deceived by such a false usurper as Sir 

One night, as King Arthur slept, he thought that 
Sir Gawain stood before him, looking just as he did 
in life, and said to him: "My uncle and my King, 
God in his great love has suffered me to come unto 
you, to warn you that in no wise ye fight on the 
morrow; for if ye do, ye shall be slain, and with you the 
most part of the people on both sides. Make ye, there- 
fore, a treaty." Immediately, the King awoke and called 
to him the best and wisest of his knights. Then all were 

72 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

agreed that, on any terms whatsoever, a treaty should be 
made with Sir Mordred, even as Sir Gawain had said; 
and, with the dawn, messengers went to the camp of the 
enemy, to call Sir Mordred to a conference. So it was 
determined that the meeting should take place in the sight 
of both armies, in an open space between the two camps, 
and that King Arthur and Mordred should each be 
accompanied by fourteen knights. Little enough faith 
had either in the other, so when they set forth to the meet- 
ing, they bade their hosts join battle if ever they saw a 
sword drawn. 

Now as they talked, it befell that an adder, coming out 
of a bush hard by, stung a knight in the foot; and he, 
seeing the snake, drew his sword to kill it and thought 
no harm thereby. But on the instant that the sword 
flashed, the trumpets blared on both sides and the two 
hosts rushed to battle. Never was there fought a fight 
of such enmity; for brother fought with brother, and 
comrade with comrade, and fiercely they cut and thrust, 
with many a bitter word between; while King Arthur 
himself, his heart hot within him, rode through and 
through the battle, seeking the traitor Mordred. So 
they fought all day, till at last the evening fell. Then 
Arthur, looking round him, saw of his valiant knights but 
two left, Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere, and these sore 
wounded; and there, over against him, by a great heap 
of the dead, stood Sir Mordred, the cause of all this ruin. 
Thereupon the King, his heart nigh broken with grief for 
the loss of his true knights, cried with a loud voice, 
"Traitor! now is thy doom upon thee!" and with his 
spear gripped in both hands, he rushed upon Sir Mordred 
and smote him that the weapon stood out a fathom behind. 
And Sir Mordred knew that he had his death wound. 

King Arthur 73 

With all the might that he had, he thrust him up the 
spear to the haft and, with his sword, struck King Arthur 
upon the head, that the steel pierced the helmet and bit 
into the head; then Mordred fell back, stark and dead. 

Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere went to the King where he 
lay, swooning from the blow, and bore him to a little 
chapel on the seashore. As they laid him on the ground, 
Sir Lucan fell dead beside the King, and Arthur, coming 
to himself, found but Sir Bedivere alive beside him. 

So King Arthur lay wounded to the death, grieving, 
not that his end was come, but for the desolation of his. 
kingdom and the loss of his good knights. And looking 
upon the body of Sir Lucan, he sighed and said: "Alas! 
true knight, dead for my sake! If I lived, I should ever 
grieve for thy death, but now mine own end draws nigh." 
Then, turning to Sir Bedivere, who stood sorrowing 
beside him, he said: "Leave weeping now, for the time 
is short and much to do. Hereafter shalt thou weep if 
thou wilt. But take now my sword Excalibur, hasten 
to the water side, and fling it into the deep. Then, 
watch what happens and bring me word thereof." "My 
Lord," said Sir Bedivere, "your command shall be 
obeyed"; and, taking the sword, he departed. But as 
he went on his way, he looked on the sword, how won- 
drously it was formed and the hilt all studded with 
precious stones; and, as he looked, he called to mind the 
marvel by which it had come into the King's keeping. 
For on a certain day, as Arthur walked on the shore of 
a great lake, there had appeared above the surface of 
the water a hand brandishing a sword. On the instant, 
the King had leaped into a boat, and, rowing into the 
lake, had got the sword and brought it back to land. 
Then he had seen how, on one side the blade, was written, 

74 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"Keep me," but on the other, "Throw me away," and, 
sore perplexed, he had shown it to Merlin, the great 
wizard, who said: "Keep it now. The time for casting 
away has not yet come." Thinking on this, it seemed 
to Bedivere that no good, but harm, must come of obey- 
ing the King's word; so hiding the sword under a tree, he 
hastened back to the little chapel. Then said the King : 
"What saw'st thou?" "Sir," answered Bedivere, "I 
saw naught but the waves, heard naught but the wind." 
"That is untrue," said King Arthur; "I charge thee, as 
thou art true knight, go again and spare not to throw 
away the sword." 

Sir Bedivere departed a second time, and his mind 
was to obey his lord; but when he took the sword in his 
hand, he thought: "Sin it is and shameful, to throw 
away so glorious a sword." Then, hiding it again, he 
hastened back to the King. "What saw'st thou?" said 
Sir Arthur. "Sir, I saw the water lap on the crags." 
Then spoke the King in great wrath: "Traitor and 
unkind! Twice hast thou betrayed me! Art dazzled 
by the splendour of the jewels, thou that, till now, 
hast ever been dear and true to me? Go yet again, but 
if thou fail me this time, I will arise and, with mine own 
hands, slay thee." 

Then Sir Bedivere left the King and, that time, he 
took the sword quickly from the place where he had 
hidden it and, forbearing even to look upon it, he twisted 
the belt about it and flung it with all his force into the 
water. A wondrous sight he saw for, as the sword 
touched the water, a hand rose from out the deep, caught 
it, brandished it thrice, and drew it beneath the sur- 

Sir Bedivere hastened back to the King and told him 

King Arthur 75 

what he had seen. "It is well," said Arthur; "now, 
bear me to the water's edge; and hasten, I pray thee, for 
I have tarried overlong and my wound has taken cold." 
So Sir Bedivere raised the King on his back and bore 
him tenderly to the lonely shore, where the lapping waves 
floated many an empty helmet and the fitful moonlight 
fell on the upturned faces of the dead. Scarce had they 
reached the shore when there hove in sight a barge, and 
on its deck stood three tall women, robed all in black and 
wearing crowns on their heads. " Place me in the barge," 
said the King, and softly Sir Bedivere lifted the King 
into it. And these three Queens wept sore over Arthur, 
and one took his head in her lap and chafed his hands, 
crying: "Alas! my brother, thou hast been overlong in 
coming and, I fear me, thy wound has taken cold." 
Then the barge began to move slowly from the land. 
When Sir Bedivere saw this, he lifted up his voice and 
cried with a bitter cry: "Ah! my Lord Arthur, thou 
art taken from me! And I, whither shall I go?" 
"Comfort thyself," said the King, "for in me is no com- 
fort more. I pass to the Valley of Avilion, to heal me of 
my grievous wound. If thou seest me never again, pray 
for me." 

So the barge floated away out of sight, and Sir Bedivere 
stood straining his eyes after it till it had vanished utterly. 
Then he turned him about and journeyed through the 
forest until, at daybreak, he reached a hermitage. Enter- 
ing it, he prayed the holy hermit that he might abide with 
him, and there he spent the rest of his life in prayer and 
holy excercise. 

But of King Arthur is no more known. Some men, 
indeed, say that he is not dead, but abides in the happy 
Valley of Avilion until such time as his country's need is 

76 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

sorest, when he shall come again and deliver it. Others 
say that, of a truth, he is dead, and that, in the far West, 
his tomb may be seen, and written on it these words: 

"$ere lieu artfcur, once ISing 
anti Ring to be," 



'ANY times had the Feast of Pentecost come 
round, and many were the knights that Arthur 
had made after he founded the Order of the Round 
Table; yet no knight had appeared who dared claim 
the seat named by Merlin the Siege Perilous. At 
last, one vigil of the great feast, a lady came to Arthur's 
court at Camelot and asked Sir Launcelot to ride with 
her into the forest hard by, for a purpose not then to be 
revealed. Launcelot consenting, they rode together 
until they came to a nunnery hidden deep in the forest ; 
and there the lady bade Launcelot dismount, and led 
him into a great and stately room. Presently there 
entered twelve nuns and with them a youth, the fairest 
that Launcelot had ever seen. "Sir," said the nuns, 
"we have brought up this child in our midst, and now 
that he is grown to manhood, we pray you make him 
knight, for of none worthier could he receive the honour." 
"Is this thy own desire?" asked Launcelot of the young 
squire; and when he said that so it was, Launcelot 
promised to make him knight after the great festival had 
been celebrated in the church next day. 

So on the morrow, after they had worshipped, Launce- 
lot knighted Galahad — for that was the youth's name — ■ 
and asked him if he would ride at once with him to the 
King's court; but the young knight excusing himself, 
Sir Launcelot rode back alone to Camelot, where all re- 


78 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

joiced that he was returned in time to keep the feast with 
the whole Order of the Round Table. 

Now, according to his custom, King Arthur was wait- 
ing for some marvel to befall before he and his knights 
sat down to the banquet. Presently a squire entered 
the hall and said: "Sir King, a great wonder has ap- 
peared. There floats on the river a mighty stone, as it 
were a block of red marble, and it is thrust through by a 
sword, the hilt of which is set thick with precious stones." 
On hearing this, the King and all his knights went forth 
to view the stone and found it as the squire had said; 
moreover, looking closer, they read these words: "None 
shall draw me hence, but only he by whose side I must 
hang; and he shall be the best knight in all the world." 
Immediately, all bade Launcelot draw forth the sword, 
but he refused, saying that the sword was not for him. 
Then, at the King's command, Sir Gawain made the 
attempt and failed, as did Sir Percivale after him. So 
the knights knew the adventure was not for them, and 
returning to the hall, took their places about the Round 

No sooner were they seated than an aged man, clothed 
all in white, entered the hall, followed by a young knight 
in red armour, by whose side hung an empty scabbard. 
The old man approached King Arthur and bowing low 
before him, said: "Sir, I bring you a young knight of 
the house and lineage of Joseph of Arimathea, and 
through him shall great glory be won for all the land of 
Britain." Greatly did King Arthur rejoice to hear this, 
and welcomed the two right royally. Then when the 
young knight had saluted the King, the old man led him 
to the Siege Perilous and drew off its silken cover; and 
all the knights were amazed, for they saw that where had 

Sir GalaJiad 79 

been engraved the words, "The Siege Perilous," was 
written now in shining gold: "This is the Siege of the 
noble prince, Sir Galahad." Straightway the young 
man seated himself there where none other had ever sat 
without danger to his life; and all who saw it said, one 
to another: "Surely this is he that shall achieve the 
Holy Grail." Now the Holy Grail was the blessed dish 
from which our Lord had eaten the Last Supper, and 
it had been brought to the land of Britain by Joseph of 
Arimathea ; but because of men's sinfulness, it had been 
withdrawn from human sight, only that, from time to 
to time, it appeared to the pure in heart. 

When all had partaken of the royal banquet, King 
Arthur bade Sir Galahad come with him to the river's 
brink; and showing him the floating stone with the sword 
thrust through it, told him how his knights had failed 
to draw forth the sword. "Sir," said Galahad, "it is no 
marvel that they failed, for the adventure was meant 
for me, as my empty scabbard shows." So saying, 
lightly he drew the sword from the heart of the stone, and 
lightly he slid it into the scabbard at his side. While 
all yet wondered at this adventure of the sword, there 
came riding to them a lady on a white palfrey who, saluting 
King Arthur, said: "Sir King, Nacien the hermit sends 
thee word that this day shall great honour be shown to 
thee and all thine house; for the Holy Grail shall 
appear in thy hall, and thou and all thy fellowship 
shall be fed therefrom." And so to Launcelot she 
said: "Sir Knight, thou hast ever been the best 
knight of all the world; but another has come to 
whom thou must yield precedence." Then Launcelot 
answered humbly: "I know well I was never the 
best." "Ay, of a truth thou wast and art still, of sinful 

80 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

men," said she, and rode away before any could ques- 
tion her further. 

So, that evening, when all were gathered about the 
Round Table, each knight in his own siege, suddenly 
there was heard a crash of thunder, so mighty that the hall 
trembled, and there flashed into the hall a sunbeam, 
brighter far than any that had ever before been seen; 
and then, draped all in white samite, there glided through 
the air what none might see, yet what all knew to be the 
Holy Grail. And all the air was filled with sweet odours, 
and on every one was shed a light in which he looked 
fairer and nobler than ever before. So they sat in an 
amazed silence, till presently King Arthur rose and gave 
thanks to God for the grace given to him and to his 
court. Then up sprang Sir Gawain and made his avow 
to follow for a year and a day the Quest of the Holy Grail, 
if perchance he might be granted the vision of it. Im- 
mediately other of the knights followed his example, 
binding themselves to the Quest of the Holy Grail until, 
in all, one hundred and fifty had vowed themselves to the 

Then was King Arthur grieved, for he foresaw the 
ruin of his noble Order. And turning to Sir Gawain, 
he said: "Nephew, ye have done ill, for through you 
I am bereft of the noblest company of knights that ever 
brought honour to any realm in Christendom. Well I 
know that never again shall all of you gather in this hall, 
and it grieves me to lose men I have loved as my life and 
through whom I have won peace and righteousness for 
all my realm." So the King mourned and his knights 
with him, but their oaths they could not recall. 

Great woe was there in Camelot next day when, after 
worship in the cathedral, the knights who had vowed 

Sir Galahad 81 

themselves to the Quest of the Holy Grail got to horse 
and rode away. A goodly company it was that passed 
through the streets, the townfolk weeping to see them go ; 
Sir Launcelot du Lac and his kin, Sir Galahad of whom 
all expected great deeds, Sir Bors and Sir Percivale, and 
many another scarcely less famed than they. So they 
rode together that day to the Castle of Vagon, where 
they were entertained right hospitably, and the next day 
they separated, each to ride his own way and see what 
adventures should befall him. 

So it came to pass that, after four days' ride, Sir Gala- 
had reached an abbey. Now Sir Galahad was still clothed 
in red armour as when he came to the King's court, and 
by his side hung the wondrous sword ; but he was without 
a shield. They of the abbey received him right heartily, 
as also did the brave King Bagdemagus, Knight of the 
Round Table, who was resting there. When they 
greeted each other, Sir Galahad asked King Bagdema- 
gus what adventure had brought him there. "Sir," said 
Bagdemagus, "I was told that in this abbey was pre- 
served a wondrous shield which none but the best knight 
in the world might bear without grievous harm to him- 
self. And though I know well that there are better 
knights than I, to-morrow I purpose to make the attempt. 
But, I pray you, bide at this monastery a while until you 
hear from me; and if I fail, do ye take the adventure upon 
you." "So be it," said Sir Galahad. 

The next day, at their request, Sir Galahad and King 
Bagdemagus were led into the church by a monk and 
shown where, behind the altar, hung the wondrous shield, 
whiter than snow save for the blood-red cross in its midst. 
Then the monk warned them of the danger to any who, 
being unworthy, should dare to bear the shield. But 

82 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

King Bagdemagus made answer: "I know well that I 
am not the best knight in the world, yet will I try if I may 
bear it." So he hung it about his neck, and, bidding 
farewell, rode away with his squire. 

The two had not journeyed far before they saw a knight 
approach, armed all in white mail and mounted upon a 
white horse. Immediately he laid his spear in rest and, 
charging King Bagdemagus, pierced him through the 
shoulder and bore him from his horse ; and standing over 
the wounded knight, he said: "Knight, thou hast shown 
great folly, for none shall bear this shield save the peerless 
knight, Sir Galahad." Then, taking the shield, he gave 
it to the squire and said: "Bear this shield to the good 
Knight Galahad and greet him well from me." "What 
is your name?" asked the squire. "That is not for thee 
or any other to know." "One thing, I [pray you," 
said the squire; "why may this shield be borne by 
none but Sir Galahad without danger?" "Because it 
belongs to him only," answered the stranger knight, and 

Then the squire took the shield and setting King Bagde- 
magus on his horse, bore him back to the abbey where he 
lay long, sick unto death. To Galahad the squire gave 
the shield and told him all that had befallen. So Gala- 
had hung the shield about his neck and rode the way that 
Bagdemagus had gone the day before; and presently he 
met the White Knight, whom he greeted courteously, 
begging that he would make known to him the marvels 
of the red-cross shield. "That will I gladly," answered 
the White Knight. "Ye must know, Sir Knight, that this 
shield was made and given by Joseph of Arimathea to the 
good King Evelake of Sarras, that, in the might of the 
holy symbol, he should overthrow the heathen who 

Sir Galahad 83 

threatened his kingdom. But afterwards, King Evelake 
followed Joseph to this land of Britain where they taught 
the true faith unto the people who before were heathen. 
Then when Joseph lay dying, he bade King Evelake set 
the shield in the monastery where ye lay last night, and 
foretold that none should wear it without loss until that 
day when it should be taken by the knight, ninth and last 
in descent from him, who should come to that place the 
fifteenth day after receiving the degree of knighthood. 
Even so has it been with you, Sir Knight." So saying, 
the unknown knight disappeared and Sir Galahad rode 
on his way. 

After Sir Launcelot had parted from his fellows at the 
Castle of Vagon, he rode many days through the forest 
without adventure, till he chanced upon a knight close 
by a little hermitage in the wood. Immediately, as was 
the wont of errant knights, they prepared to joust, and 
Launcelot, whom none before had overthrown, was 
borne down, man and horse, by the stranger knight. 
Thereupon a nun, who dwelt in the hermitage, cried: 
" God be with thee, best knight in all this world," for she 
knew the victor for Sir Galahad. But Galahad, not wish- 
ing to be known, rode swiftly away; and presently Sir 
Launcelot got to horse again and rode slowly on his way, 
shamed and doubting sorely in his heart whether this 
quest were meant for him. 

Afterward Sir Galahad rescued Sir Percivale from 
twenty knights who beset him, and rode on his way till 
night-fall, when he sought shelter at a little hermitage. 
Thither there came in the night a damsel who desired to 
speak with Sir Galahad; so he arose and went to her. 
"Galahad," said she, "arm you and mount your horse 
and follow me, for I am come to guide you in your quest." 

84 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

So they rode together until they had come to the seashore 
and there the damsel showed Galahad a great ship into 
which he must enter. Then she bade him farewell, and 
he, going on to the ship, found there already the good 
knights Sir Bors and Sir Percivale, who made much joy 
of the meeting. They abode in that ship until they had 
come to the castle of King Pelles, who welcomed them 
right gladly. Then, as they all sat at supper that night, 
suddenly the hall was filled with a great light, and the 
holy vessel appeared in their midst, covered all in white 
samite. While they all rejoiced, there came a voice, 
saying: "My Knights whom I have chosen, ye have 
seen the holy vessel dimly. Continue your journey 
to the city of Sarras and there the perfect vision shall 
be yours." 

Now in the city of Sarras had dwelt a long time Joseph 
of Arimathea, teaching its people the true faith, before 
ever he came into the land of Britain; but when Sir 
Galahad and his fellows came there after long voyage, 
they found it ruled by a heathen King named Estorause, 
who cast them into a deep dungeon. There they were 
kept a year, but at the end of that time, the tyrant died. 
Then the great men of the land gathered together to con- 
sider who should be their King ; and, while they were in 
council, came a voice bidding them take as their King the 
youngest of the three knights whom Estorause had thrown 
into prison. So in fear and wonder they hastened to the 
prison, and, releasing the three knights, made Galahad 
King as the voice had bidden them. 

Thus Sir Galahad became King of the famous city of 
Sarras, in far Babylon. He had reigned a year when, one 
morning early, he and the other two knights, his fellows, 
went into the chapel, and there they saw, kneeling in 

Sir Galahad 85 

prayer, an aged man, robed as a bishop, and round him 
hovered many angels. The knights fell on their knees 
in awe and reverence, whereupon he that seemed a bishop 
turned to them and said: "I am Joseph of Arimathea, 
and I am come to show you the perfect vision of the Holy 
Grail." On the instant there appeared before them, 
without veil or cover, the holy vessel, in a radiance of 
light such as almost blinded them. Sir Bors and Sir 
Percivale, when at length they were recovered from the 
brightness of that glory, looked up to find that the holy 
Joseph and the wondrous vessel had passed from their 
sight. Then they went to Sir Galahad where he still 
knelt as in prayer, and behold, he was dead; for it had 
been with him even as he had prayed; in the moment 
when he had seen the vision, his soul had gone back to 

So the two knights buried him in that far city, them- 
selves mourning and all the people with them. And 
immediately after, Sir Percivale put off his arms and took 
the habit of a monk, living a devout and holy life until, 
a year and two months later, he also died and was buried 
near Sir Galahad. Then Sir Bors armed him, and bid- 
ding farewell to the city, sailed away until, after many 
weeks, he came again to the land of Britain. There he 
took horse, and stayed not till he had come to Camelot. 
Great was the rejoicing of Arthur and all his knights when 
Sir Bors was once more among them. When he had 
told all the adventures which had befallen him and the 
good knights, his companions, all who heard were filled 
with amaze. But the King he caused the wisest clerks 
in the land to write in great books of the Holy Grail, that 
the fame of it should endure unto all time. 

86 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Sir Galahad 

by alfred lord tennyson 

My good blade carves the casques of men, 

My tough lance thrusteth sure, 
My strength is as the strength of ten, 

Because my heart is pure. 
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high, 

The hard brands shiver on the steel, 
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly, 

The horse and rider reel: 
They reel, they roll in clanging lists, 

And when the tide of combat stands, 
Perfume and flowers fall in showers 

That lightly rain from ladies' hands. 

How sweet are looks that ladies bend 

On whom their favours fall! 
For them I battle till the end, 

To save from shame and thrall: 
But all my heart is drawn above, 

My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine: 
I never felt the kiss of love, 

Nor maiden's hand in mine. 
More bounteous aspects on me beam, 

Me mightier transports move and thrill; 
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer 

A virgin heart in work and will. 

When down the stormy crescent goes, 

A light before me swims, 
Between dark stems the forest glows, 

I hear a noise of hymns: 

Sir Galahad 87 

Then by some secret shrine I ride ; 

I hear a voice, but none are there; 
The stalls are void, the doors are wide, 

The tapers burning fair. 
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth, 

The silver vessels sparkle clean, 
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings, 

And solemn chaunts resound between. 

Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres 

I find a magic bark; 
I leap on board: no helmsman steers* 

I float till all is dark. 
A gentle sound, an awful light! 

Three angels bear the Holy Grail: 
With folded feet, in stoles of white, 

On sleeping wings they sail. 
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God! 

My spirit beats her mortal bars, 
As down dark tides the glory slides, 

And star-like mingles with the stars. 

When on my goodly charger borne 

Thro' dreaming towns I go, 
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn, 

The streets are dumb with snow. 
The tempest crackles on the leads, 

And, ringing, spins from brand and mail; 
But o'er the dark a glory spreads, 

And gilds the driving hail. 
I leave the plain, I climb the height; 

No branchy thicket shelter yields; 

^8 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

But blessed forms in whistling storms 
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields. 

A maiden knight — to me is given 

Such hope, I know not fear; 
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven 

That often meet me here. 
I muse on joy that will not cease, 

Pure spaces clothed in living beams, 
Pure lilies of eternal peace, 

Whose odours haunt my dreams; 
And, stricken by an angel's hand, 

This mortal armour that I wear, 
This weight and size, this heart and eyes, 

Are touch 'd, are turn'd to finest air. 

The clouds are broken in the sky, 

And thro' the mountain-walls 
A rolling organ-harmony 

Swells up, and shakes and falls. 
Then move the trees, the copses nod, 

Wings flutter, voices hover clear: 
"O just and faithful knight of God! 

Ride on! the prize is near." 
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange; 

By bridge and ford, by park and pale? 
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide, 

Until I find the Holy Grail. 



NOW there dwelt in a castle in the Netherland a 
certain King, Siegmund by name, who had to 
wife a fair lad} 7 Sieglind. These two had a son 
whom they called Siegfried, a very gallant prince. Very 
carefully did they train and teach him, but the root of 
the matter was in the lad himself, for he had an honest 
and good heart, and was in all things a very perfect 
knight. This Siegfried being come to man's estate, and 
being well practised in arms, and having also as much of 
wealth as he needed, turned his thoughts to marriage, 
desiring to win a fair bride for himself. 

It came to Prince Siegfried's ears that there was a very 
fair maiden in the Rhineland, and that many noble 
knights had come from far and wide to make their suits 
to her, but that she wouid have none of them. Never 
yet had she seen the man whom she would take for her 
husband. All this the Prince heard, and he said, "This 
Kriemhild will I have for my wife." But King Siegmund, 
when he heard of his son's purpose, was not a little 
troubled thereat; and Queen Sieglind wept, for she 
knew the brother of Kriemhild, and she was aware of the 
strength and valour of his warriors. So they said to the 
Prince, "Son, this is not a wise wooing." But Siegfried 
made answer, "My father, I will have none of wedlock, 
if I may not marry where I love." Thereupon the King 
said. "If thou canst not forego this maiden, then thou 
shalt have all the help that I can give." 


go Heroes "Every Child Should Know 

Queen Sieglind said: "If you are still minded to go, 
then I will prepare for you and your companions the best 
raiment that ever warrior wore." 

Siegfried bowed low to his mother, saying: "So be 
it; only remember that twelve comrades only will I take 
with me." 

So the Queen and her ladies sat stitching night and day, 
taking no rest till the raiment was ready. King Sieg- 
mund the while commanded that the men should polish 
their war-gear, coats of mail, and helmets, and shields. 

The thirteen comrades departed and, on the seventh 
day, they rode into the town of Worms in Rhineland, a 
gallant company, bravely arrayed, for their garments 
flashed with gold, and their war-gear, over their coats 
of mail and their helmets, were newly polished. Their 
long swords hung down by their sides, even to their 
spurs, and sharp were the javelins which they held 
in their hands. The javelin of Siegfred was 
two spans broad in the blade, and had a double 
edge. Terrible were the wounds that it made. Their 
bridles were gilded, and their horse-girths of silk. 
A comely sight they were to see, and the people came 
from all round to gaze upon them. 

Tidings had been brought to King Gunther that cer- 
tain warriors were come, very gallant to look upon and 
richly clad, but that no one kenw who they were, and 
whence they came. "Now," said the King, "this 
troubles me much that no one can tell whence these war- 
riors come." To him Ortwein, the High Server, made 
answer, "Seeing, sire, that no man knows aught about 
these strangers, let some one fetch Hagen, my uncle; 
he knows all the kingdoms of the world, and the dwellers 

Siegfried 91 

So Hagen went to the window and looked at the men. 
Well pleased was he with their clothing and their gear 
of war; but he had never seen their like in the Rhine- 
land. So he said: " Whencesoever these men have 
come, my lord, that they are princes or of a prince's 
company is clear. But stay; Siegfried, the famous hero, 
I have never seen with my eyes, but I verily believe that 
is he. If it indeed be, there is no warrior in this land, 
that is his match for strength and valour. 

"Once upon a time riding alone, with none to help 
him, he came upon the treasure of the Nibelungs. It 
had been newly taken out of the hollow of a mountain, 
and the Nibelungs were making ready to share it. And 
when they saw him, one cried aloud, 'Here comes 
Siegfried, the great champion from the Netherlands 
So the two princes of the Nibelungs bade him welcome, 
and would have him divide the treasure among them. 
A mighty store it was, of jewels such plenty that scarce 
five-score wagons could carry them away, and of red gold 
yet more. All this they would have Siegfried divide 
among them. And for his wages they gave him the Nibel- 
ungs' sword. But little did they know what should be- 
fall at his hand. For lo! ere he had ended his dividing, 
they stirred up strife against him. Twelve stout com- 
rades had the princes, and with these the princes thought 
to have slain Siegfried. But they availed nought; with 
the very sword which they had given him for his reward 
— Balmung was its name — he slew them all. The giants 
he slew, and the Kings also, and when Albrich the dwarf 
would have avenged his lords — for he was the keeper of 
the treasure — Siegfried overcame him also, and wrested 
from him the Hood of Darkness, which whoso dons, 
straightway he vanishes from the sight of all men. 

92 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"But the treasure he would not take for himself. 
* Carry it back/ said he to Albrich the dwarf, 'to the hole 
whence it was taken, and keep if for me. And you shall 
swear a great oath to do me any service that I shall ask of 
you, whensoever and wheresoever may seem good to 

"Another story have I heard tell of Siegfried, how he 
slew a dragon with his own hand and sword, and how 
he bathed him in the dragon's blood, and made his skin 
so hard and horny that no sword may pierce it. Let us 
therefore receive him with all courtesy; for verily he if 
a right strong and valiant knight, and 'tis better, I ween, 
to be his friend than his enemy." 

"Methinks thou art right," said King Gunther. "Let 
us go down and greet him courteously." 

Never were guests more honoured as, of a surety ; 
never guests had bolder mien. And as the days went by 
the Kings and their guests gave themselves to sport and 
pastime; but whatever they did, Siegfried was ever 
the first; none could put the stone so far, or cast the 
spear with so sure an aim. Sometimes the fair ladies of 
the court looked on, and not a few looked on the young 
Prince from the Netherland with favour. But he had 
ever one only in his heart, ever the fair Kriemhild. 

King Gunther purposed in his heart to marry a wife. 
No daughter of his own land would he woo, though there 
were many fair maidens in the Rhineland. But there 
came to him tidings of a Queen that dwelt beyond the sea ; 
not to be matched was she for beauty, nor had she any 
peer for strength. Her love she proffered to any warrior 
who could vanquish her at three games, hurling of the 
spear, and putting the stone, and leaping. But if the 
suitor himself should be vanquished, then must he lose 

Siegfried 93 

his head. Such were the conditions of her wooing, and 
many brave warriors had died for her. 

On a certain day King Gunther and his chiefs sat in 
council, and the matter was this — where shall the King 
seek a wife who shall both be for a comfort to him and 
for a glory to the land? Then spake the King, "I will 
seek Queen Brunhild and no other. For her will I 
hazard my life ; nor do I care to live if I may not win her 
for my wife." To him spake Siegfried, "I would have 
you give up this purpose. He who woos Brunhild plays for 
too high a stake. Take my counsel, sire, and go not on 
such a journey." "I should think it scorn," said he, 
"to fear a woman, were she ever so bold and strong." 
"Ah, sire," Siegfried made answer, "you know not how 
strong she is. Were you four men and not one only, you 
could not prevail over her." 

But King Gunther would not yield. "How strong 
soever she be, and whatever the chances that befall me, 
I will woo this fair Brunhild," he said. Then said 
Hagen, the King's uncle, "Since you are resolved to take 
in hand this enterprise, ask Prince Siegfried to help you." 
Then said King Gunther to Siegfried, "Will you help me 
to win this Brunhild for my wife ? Do this, and ask of 
me what you will." Siegfried made answer, "Give me 
your sister: I ask no other reward but that I may have 
the fair Kriemhild to wife." "That I promise," said 
the King. "Of a surety, so soon as I shall have brought 
the fair Brunhild to this realm, then will I give you my 
sister to wife; and I pray from my heart that you may 
live long and happily together." Then the two sware 
to each other. 

"Tell me now," said Gunther, "how shall we travel 
to this land where Brunhild dwells? Shall we go in 

94 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

such state as befits a King ? If you think fit, I could well 
bring together thirty thousand warriors." "Thirty 
thousand would avail nothing." answered Siegfried, "so 
strong she is and savage. We will take no army, but 
go as simple knights, taking two companions with us, 
and the two shall be Sir Hagen and Sir Dankwart." 
"And wherewithal shall we be clothed?" said King 
Gunther. "As richly as maybe," answered Siegfried. 
"My mother has a great store of goodly raiment," said 
the King. Then spake Hagen, "Nay, sire, go not to the 
Queen, but rather to your sister. She will provide all 
things that you need." 

So they went to the Lady Kriemhild and told her all 
their purpose, and how they should need goodly raiment, 
three changes for the day, and that for four days. With 
good will did the fair Kriemhild receive them, and 
promised that she would give them what they needed. 
As she promised, so she did; for she and her ladies, thirty 
maids skilful in the work of the needle, laboured night 
and day to furnish a rich store of apparel. The fair 
Kriemhild planned them and cut them to just measure 
with her own hand and her ladies sewed them. Silks 
there were, some from Arabia, white as snow, and from 
the Lesser Asia others, green as grass, and strange skins 
of fishes from distant seas, and fur of the ermine, with 
black spots on snowy white, and precious stones and 
gold of Arabia. In seven weeks all was prepared, both 
apparel and also arms and armour ; and there was nothing 
that was either over-long or over-short, or that could be 
surpassed for comeliness. Great thanks did the war- 
riors give to each fair seamstress, and to Kriemhild the 
beautiful the greatest thanks of all. 

So the four companions embarked on their ship, 

Siegfried 95 

with Siegfried for their helmsman, for he knew all the 
tides and currents of Rhine. Well furnished were they 
with food and wine and all things that they needed; and 
prosperous was their voyage, both while they sailed down 
the river and while they crossed the sea. 

On the twelfth morning they came to the land of 
Queen Brunhild. And when King Gunther saw how 
the coast stretched far away, and how on every height 
there stood a fair castle, he said to Siegfried, "Tell me, 
Siegfried, if you can, whose are those castles, and this 
fair land. Never in all my life, I assure you, have I 
seen castles so fairly planned and built so well." Siegfried 
made answer, "These castles and this fair land are 
Queen Brunhild's and this strong fortress that you see 
is Isenstein. And now, my comrades, I have a counsel 
for your ears. To-day we shall stand in Queen Brun- 
hild's court, and we must be wise and wary when we 
stand before her. Let therefore one and the same story 
be found in the mouth of all — that Gunther is my master, 
and that I am Gunther's man. If we would win our 
purpose there is no surer plan than this." So spake 
Siegfried to his comrades. And to the King he said, 
"Mark, I pray you, what I do for the love of your fair 

While they talked one to the other the bark drifted so 
near to the shore that they could see the maidens stand- 
ing at the castle windows. "Who are these?" said 
King Gunther to Siegfried. Said Siegfried, "Look with 
all your eyes at these fair ladies, and tell me which of 
them pleases you best, and which, could you win her, you 
would choose for your wife." Gunther made answer, 
"One that I see at yonder window in a snow-white vest 
? .s surely the loveliest of all. She, if I can win her, shall 

96 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

surely be my wife." ''You have chosen well," said 
Siegfried; "that maiden in the snow-white vest is Brun- 
hild, the fairest and fiercest of women." 

Meanwhile the Queen had bidden her maidens depart 
from the windows. " 'Tis a shame," said she, "that you 
should make yourselves a sight for strangers." 

And now came the four comrades from their bark to 
the castle. Siegfried led a noble charger by the bridle, 
and stood by the stirrup till King Gunther had mounted, 
serving him as a vassal serves his lord. This Brunhild 
marked from where she stood. "A noble lord," thought 
she in her heart, "whom such a vassal serves." Then 
Siegfried mounted his own steed, and Hagen and Dank- 
wart did the like. A fairer company never was seen. 
The King and Siegfried were clothed in white, and white 
were their horses, and their shields flashed far as they 
moved. So, in lordly fashion, they rode to the hall of 
Queen Brunhild, and the bells of gold that hung from 
their saddles tinkled as they went. Hagen and Dank- 
wart, on the other hand, wore black apparel, and their 
chargers were black. 

Meanwhile the fair Brunhild inquired of her nobles 
who these strangers might be that had come across the 
sea, and on what errand they had come. One of them 
answered, "Fair lady, I have never seen these stout 
warriors, save one only, who is greatly like to the noble 
Siegfried. If this be he, I would have you give him a 
hearty welcome. Next to him is a man of right royal 
mien, a King, I trow, who rules with his sceptre mighty 
lands and herd. The third has a lowering brow, but is 
a stout warrior withal; the fourth is young and modest 
of look, but for all his gentle bearing, we should all rue it, 
I trow, if wrong were done to him." 

Siegfried 97 

Then spake Queen Brunhild, "Bring me now my 
royal vesture; if Siegfried seeks to woo me for his wife, 
he must risk his life on the cast; I fear him not so much 
as to yield to him without a struggle." So the Queen 
arrayed her in her royal robes, and went to the hall of 
audience, and a hundred maidens and more followed 
her, fair of face and in fair array. And after the maidens 
came five hundred warriors and more, each bearing his 
sword in his hand, the very flower of Isenland. 

Said Queen Brunhild to Siegfried, "You are welcome, 
good Sir Siegfried. Show me, if you will, for what cause 
you have come hither." "I thank you a thousand times," 
answered Siegfried, "that you have greeted me so courte- 
ously, but know that I must give place to this noble hero. 
He is my lord and master; I am his vassal. Let your 
favour be for him. His kingdom is by the Rhine side, 
and we have sailed all this way from thence that he may 
woo you for his bride. That is his fixed intent, nor 
will he yield whatever may befall. Gunther is his name ; 
a great King is he, and nothing will content him but to 
carry you back with him to the Rhine." 

Queen Brunhild answered, "If he is the master and 
you the man, then let him know that he must match me 
in my games and conquer me. If he prevail, then will 
I be his wedded wife; but if I prevail, then must he die, 
he and you and all his comrades." Then spake Sir 
Hagen, "Lady, tell us now the games at which my master 
must contend ; and know that you must strive full hard, 
if you would conquer him, for he has a full trust that he 
will win you for his bride." The Queen answered, "He 
must cast the stone further than I, and also leap behind 
it further than I leap; and also he must cast the spear 
with me. It seems to me that you are over-hasty; let 

98 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

him count the cost, ere he lose both fame and life." 
Then Siegfried whispered to the King, "Have no fear 
for what shall be, and cast away all your care. Let the 
fair Brunhild do what she will, I will bear you harmless." 
So the King spake aloud, "Fairest of the fair, tell me 
your pleasure ; were it a greater task willingly would I 
undertake it, for if I win you not for my bride, willingly 
will I lose my head." 

Then the fair Brunhild called for her battle gear, her 
arms, and her breastplate of gold and her mighty shield; 
and over all she drew a surcoat of silk, marvellously 
made. Fierce and angry was her countenance as she 
looked at the strangers, and Hagen and Dankwart 
were troubled to see her, for they doubted how 
it might go with their master. " 'Tis a fatal journey," 
said they, "and will bring us to trouble." 

Meanwhile Siegfried hied him with nimble foot to the 
bark, and there he took, from the secret corner where he 
kept it, the Hood of Darkness, by which, at his will, he 
could make himself invisible. Quickly did he go, and 
quickly returned, and now no one could see him, for he 
wore the hood. Through the crowd he went at his 
pleasure, seeing all but seen of none. 

Meanwhile men had marked out the ring for the fray, 
and chiefs had been chosen as umpires, seven hundred 
men in armour who should judge betwixt the combatants. 
First of the two came the fair Brunhild. So mighty was 
her presence, a man had thought her ready to match 
herself in battle with all the Kings in the world. And 
there was carried before her a mighty shield of ruddy 
gold, very thick and broad and heavy, overlaid with 
studs of steel. Four chamberlains could scarce bear the 
weight. Sir Hagen, when he saw it, said, "How now, 

Siegfried 99 

my lord King ? this fair one whom you would woo must 
surely be the devil's wife." Next came three men who 
scarce could carry the Queen's javelin, with its mighty 
spear-head, heavy and great as though three had been 
melted into one. And when King Gunther saw it, he said 
to himself, "This is a danger from which the devil him- 
self can scarce escape. I would that I were once more 
by the banks of Rhine; he that would might woo and 
win this fair maiden for me." After this there was 
brought the mighty stone which Brunhild was to hurl. 
Twelve knights could scarce support it, so big it was. 

And now the Queen addressed her to the contest, roll- 
ing her sleeves about her arms, and fitting her buckler, 
and poising her mighty spear in her hand. And the 
strangers, when they saw it, were sore afraid for all their 

But now came Siegfried to King Gunther's side and 
touched his hand. Greatly amazed was the King for 
he did not understand his champion's device. "Who 
was it that touched me ?" he said, and looked round, but 
saw no one. "'Tis I," answered the Prince, "your 
trusty friend, Siegfried. Have no fear of the maiden. 
Let me carry the buckler; you shall seem to do each deed, 
but I will do it in truth. But be careful to hide the device. 
Should the maiden discover it, she will not spare to bring 
it to nought." Right glad was Gunther to know that his 
strong ally was at hand. 

And now the Queen threw the spear with all her 
might against the shield Siegfried bore upon his arm. 
New was the shield and stout of make, but the spear- 
head passed clean through it, and rang on the hero's 
coat of mail, dealing him so sore a blow that the blood 
gushed forth from his mouth. Of a truth, but for the 

ioo Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Eood of Darkness, that hour both the champions had 
died. Then Siegfried caught the great spear in his 
hand, and tore it from the shield, and hurled it back. 
"She is too fair to slay," said he to himself, and he turned 
the spear point behind him, and smote the maiden with 
the shaft on the silken vest that she wore. Loud rang 
the blow, and the fire-sparks leapt from her armour. 
Never could Gunther, for all his strength, have dealt such 
a blow, for it felled the strong Brunhild to the ground. 
Lightly did she leap up again, crying, "King Gunther, 
I thank you for the blow; 'twas shrewdly given," for she 
thought that the King had dealt it. 

But great was the wrath in her heart to find that her 
spear had sped in vain. And now she turned to the great 
stone where it lay, and poised it in her hand, and hurled 
it with all her might. And having hurled it, she herself 
leapt after it. Twelve full arms' length hurtled the 
great stone through the air, so mighty was the maiden, 
and she herself overpassed it by a pace. Then came 
Gunther to the place, with Siegfried unseen by his side. 
And Siegfried caught the stone and poised it — but it 
seemed to all as if Gunther did it — and threw it yet 
another arm's length beyond the cast of the maid, and 
passed the stone himself, aye, and carried King Gunther 
along with him, so mighty was he ! 

But when the Queen saw that she was vanquished, 
she flushed with shame and wrath, and turning to her 
lords, she spake aloud, "Come hither, my kinsmen and 
lieges. You must now be thralls of King Gunther of 

So the chiefs of Isenland laid their swords at Gunther's 
feet and did him homage, for they thought that he had 
vanquished by his own strength; and he, for he was a 

Siegfried 101 

very gentle, courteous knight, greeted the maid right 
pleasantly, and she, for her part, took him by the hand and 
said, "Henceforth, Sir King, all the rule and power that 
I have held is yours." 

There is no need to tell how Gunther and Brunhild and 
all their company travelled to Rhineland with great joy, 
and how Queen Ute and her sons and the fair Kriemhild, 
and all the people of the land, gave them a hearty wel- 
come and how in due time King Gunther was married 
to the fair Brunhild. Nor is there need of many words to 
relate how Siegfried also took to wife the beautiful Kriem- 
hild, as it had been promised him. Nor were there any 
to gainsay save Brunhild only, for she grudged that her 
husband's sister should be given to a vassal, for such in 
truth she deemed him to be. Very ill content she was, 
though the King would fain have satisfied her, saying that 
he was a very noble knight, and was lord of many wood- 
lands, and had great store of gold and treasure. 

So Siegfried wedded the fair Kriemhild and took her 
with him to his own land. A goodly welcome did the 
Netherlands give her. And Siegmund gave up his king- 
dom to his son, and the two lived in much peace and love 
together; and when in the tenth year a son was born to 
them, they called him by the name of his uncle Gunther. 

Also Gunther and Brunhild lived together in much 
happiness. They also had a son, and they called him 
by the name of Siegfried. 

But Brunhild was ill content that Siegfried being, 
for so she deemed, her husband's vassal, should pay no 
homage to his lord and do no service for his fee. And 
she was very urgent with her husband that he should 
suffer this no longer. But the King was fain to put her 
off. "Nay," said he, "the journey is too long. Their 

102 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

land is far from ours; why should we trouble him to 
come? Also he is a great prince and a powerful.'* 
'* Be he as great as he will," she answered, " 'tis a vassal's 
duty to pay homage to his lord." But Gunther laughed 
to himself. Little thought had he of homage from Sieg- 
fried. Then the Queen changed her voice. "Dear 
lord," she said, "how gladly would I see Siegfried and 
your dear sister once more. Well do I remember how 
fair she was and how kind, how gracious of speech when 
we sat together, brides both of us." With such words 
she persauded her husband. "There are no guests that 
would be more welcome," said he; "I will find messen- 
gers who shall bid them come to the Rhineland." 

Great was the joy in Rhineland when the messengers 
returned and told how they had been welcomed and 
royally entertained and loaded with gifts, and how that 
Siegfried and his Queen Kriemhild and a company of 
gallant knights were coming to the festival. Great was 
the joy and manifold the preparations. 

No sooner did the King hear the news than he sought 
out Queen Brunhild where she sat in her chamber. ' ' Bear 
you in mind," said he, "how Kriemhild my sister wel- 
comed you when you came hither from your own land. 
Do you, therefore, dear wife, welcome her with the like 
affection." "So shall it be," answered the Queen. 

And indeed, when the guests came, right royal was the 
welcome that they had. For Gunther and Brunhild rode 
forth from the city to meet them, and greeted them most 
heartily. All was mirth and jollity. By the day there 
were tilts and tournaments and sports of every kind, and 
at night there was feasting in the hall. And so they did 
for twelve days. 

But Brunhild ever cherished a thought of mischief in 

Siegfried 103 

her heart. "Why," she said to herself, "why has Sieg- 
fried stayed so long to do homage for that which he holds 
of us in fee? I shall not be content till Kriemhild an- 
swer me in this." 

It fell out on a certain day, while sundry knights were 
in the castle court, that the two Queens sat together. 
The fair Kriemhild then began, "My husband is so 
mighty a man that he should rule these kingdoms of 
right." "Nay r " answered Brunhild, "that might be 
were you and your husband only alive, and all others 
dead, but so long as Gunther lives he must needs be 
King." Then said fair Kriemhild, "See how he shines 
among the knights, a very moon among the stars." 
Brunhild answered, "However brave and strong he may 
be, and stately to look upon, Gunther, your brother, is 
better than he." "Nay," said Kriemhild, "better he 
is not, nay, nor even his peer." "How say you?" an- 
swered Brunhild in wrath; "I spake not without cause. 
When I saw the two for the first time, then I heard with 
my own ears how Siegfried confessed that he was Gun- 
ther's man. Yea, I heard him say it, and I hold him to be 
such." "This is folly," said Kriemhild; "think you 
that my brothers could have given me to be bride to a 
vassal? Away, Brunhild, with such idle talk, if we 
would still be friends." "I will not away with it," 
Brunhild made answer. "Shall I renounce the service 
which he and all the vassals are bound to render to 
their lord?" "Renounce it you must," cried Kriemhild 
in great wrath. "The service of a vassal he will never 
do; he is of higher degree than Gunther my brother, 
though Gunther is a noble King." "You bear yourself 
far too proudly," answered Brunhild. 

But the deadliest cause of quarrel was yet to come 

104 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Said Queen Kriemhild to Queen Brunhild when next sh« 
saw her: "Think you that when you were vanquished 
in your own land it was Gunther, my brother, that van- 
quished you?" "Yea," answered the Queen, "did I 
not see it with my own eyes?" "Nay," said Kriemhild, 
"it was not so. See you this ring?" And she took a 
ring that she had upon her finger and held it forth. "Do 
you know it?" And Brunhild looked and knew it for 
her own. "That," said Kriemhild, "Siegfried, my hus- 
band, took from you when you were smitten by his spear 
and knew not what had befallen you, so sore was the blow. 
You saw him not, for he had the Hood of Darkness on 
him and was invisible. But it was he that smote you 
with the spear, and put the stone further than you, and 
passed you in the leap. And this ring he gave me for a 
token, if ever you should boast yourself against me. 
Talk, therefore, no more of lords and vassals. My hus- 
band feigned this vassalage that he might deceive you the 
more readily." 

But Brunhild held her peace, for the ring was a proof 
which she could not gainsay. She held her peace, but 
she cherished her rage, keeping it in the depths of her 
heart, and sware that she would be avenged on the man 
that had so deceived her. 

When Hagen saw that Queen Brunhild was in con- 
tinual trouble and sadness he would fain know the 
cause. " 'Tis of Siegfried's doing," she answered. 
"He has wronged me beyond pardon." And she be- 
sought him that he would avenge her and King 
Gunther upon him. 

So Hagan plotted evil, saying enemies were coming 
against Gunther, and Siegfried and his knights made them 
ready to go forth to the King's defence. And of the 

Siegfried 105 

chiefs of Rhineland not a few offered themselves as com- 
rades, knowing nothing of the treachery that Hagen and 
his fellows were preparing against him. 

But before they departed Hagen went to bid farewell 
to Queen Kriemhild. Said she, "I have good comfort 
in my heart to think how valiant a husband I have, and 
how zealous he is to help his friends, for I have loved my 
kinsmen always, nor ever wished them ill." "Tell me, 
dear lady," said Hagen, "what service I can do to your 
husband, for there is no one whom I love better than him." 
The Queen made answer, "I have no fear that my lord 
will fall in battle by any man's sword, save only that he is 
too ready to follow even to rashness his own warlike 
spirit." "Dear lady," said Hagen, "if there is any dan- 
ger which you hold in special fear, tell me that I may 
defend him against it." Then Kriemhild, in the simple - 
ness of her heart, told him the secret. "In years gone by," 
said she, "my husband slew a dragon among the moun- 
tains, and when he had slain the monster, he bathed him- 
self in its blood. So mighty was the charm, that thence- 
forth no steel had power to wound him. And yet, for all 
this, I am ever in fear lest by some mischance a weapon 
should pierce him. Hearken now, my cousin, for you 
are of my kindred, hearken, and see how I put my trust 
in your honour. While Siegfried washed his limbs in the 
blood of the dragon, there fell a leaf from a linden tree 
between his shoulders. There and there only can steel 
harm him." "'Tis easy," said the false Hagen, "for me 
to defend so»small a spot. Only do you sew a little token 
on his cloak, that I may the better know the spot that 
most needs protection when we stand together in the 
fight." "I will do so," said the Queen; "I will sew a 
little cross with threads of silk on his cloak, and you will 

io6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

guard him when he fights in the throng of his foes.* 
"That will I do, dear lady," said the traitor. 

Hagen went straightway to King Gunther and said, 
"I have learnt that which I needed to know; put off this 
march ; let us go on a hunt. So that which we would do 
will be easier done." "I will order that," answered the 

Siegfried, before he set out for the hunting, bade fare- 
well to his wife: "God grant," said he, "that we may 
soon meet happily again; meanwhile be merry among 
your kinsfolk here." But Kriemhild thought of how she 
had discovered the secret to Hagen, and was sore afraid, 
yet dared not tell the truth. Only she said to her hus- 
band, "I pray you to leave this hunting. Only this night 
past I had an evil dream. I saw two wild boars pur- 
suing you over the heath, and the flowers were red as with 
blood. Greatly I fear some treason, my Siegfried." 
"Nay," said he, "there is not one in Rhineland here that 
bears me ill-will. Whom have I wronged?" "I know 
not," answered the Queen," but yet my heart bodes evil. 
For I had yet another dream. I seemed to see two 
mountains fall with a terrible noise on your head. If 
you go, you will break my heart." But he laughed at 
her fears, and kissed her, and so departed. 

Then Siegfried went on the hunting, and Gunther and 
Hagen went with him, and a company of hunters and 
hounds. When they came to the forest Siegfried said, 
"Now who shall begin the hunting?" Hagen made 
answer, "Let us divide into two companies ere we begin, 
and each shall beat the coverts as he will ; so shall we see 
who is the more skilful in the chase." "I need no pack," 
said Siegfried; "give me one well-trained hound that can 
track the game through the coverts. That will suffice for 

Siegfried 107 

me." So a lime-hound was given to him. All that the 
good hound started did Siegfried slay; no beast could 
outrun him or escape him. A wild boar first he slew, 
and next to the boar a lion ; he shot an arrow through the 
beast from side to side. After the lion he slew a buffalo 
and four elks, and a great store of game besides, so that 
the huntsmen said, "Leave us something in our woods, 
Sir Siegfried. " 

King Gunther bade blow the horn for breakfast. When 
Siegfried's huntsman heard the blast he said: "Our 
hunting-time is over; we must back to our comrades." 
So they went with all speed to the trysting-place. 

The whole company sat down to their meal. There 
was plenty of every kind, but wine was wanting. "How 
is this?" said Siegfried: "the kitchen is plentiful; but 
where is the wine?" Said Gunther the King, "'Tis 
Hagen's fault, who makes us all go dry." "True, Sir 
King," said Hagen, "my fault it is. But I know of a 
runnel, cold and clear, that is hard by. Let us go thither 
and quench our thirst." Then Siegfried rose from his 
place, for his thirst was sore, and would have sought the 
place. Said Hagen, when he saw him rise, "I have heard 
say that there is no man in all the land so fleet of foot as 
Siegfried. Will he deign to let us see his speed?" "With 
all my heart," cried the hero. "Let us race from hence 
to the runnel." "'Tis agreed," said Hagen the traitor. 
"Furthermore," said Siegfried, "I will carry all the equip- 
ment that I bare in the chase." So Gunther and Hagen 
stripped them to their shirts, but Siegfried carried sword 
and spear, all his hunting-gear, and yet was far before 
the two at the runnel. 

Yet, such was his courtesy, that he would not drink 
before the King had quenched his thirst. He was ill 

108 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

repaid, I trow, for his grace. For when the King had 
drunk, as Siegfried knelt plunging his head into the 
stream, Sir Hagen took his spear and smote him on the 
little crosslet mark that was worked on his cloak between 
his shoulders. And when he had struck the blow he 
fled in mortal fear. When Siegfried felt that he was 
wounded, he rose with a great bound from his knees and 
sought for his weapons. But these the false Hagen had 
taken and laid far away. Only the shield was left. This 
he took in his hand and hurled at Hagen with such might 
that it felled the traitor to the ground, and was itself 
broken to pieces. If the hero had but had his good sword 
Balmung in his hand, the murderer had not escaped with 
his life that day. 

Then all the Rhineland warriors gathered about him. 
Among them was King Gunther, making pretence to 
lament. To him said Siegfried, "Little it profits to 
bewail the man whose murder you have plotted. Did 
I not save you from shame and defeat? Is this the re- 
compense that you pay? And yet even of you I would 
ask one favour. Have some kindness for my wife. She 
is your sister; if you have any knightly faith and honour 
remaining, guard her well." Then there came upon 
him the anguish of death. Yet one more word he spake, 
"Be sure that in slaying me you have slain yourselves." 
And when he had so spoken he died. 

Then they laid his body on a shield and carried it back, 
having agreed among themselves to tell this tale, that Sir 
Siegfried having chosen to hunt by himself was slain by 
robbers in the wood. 



THE trumpets sounded and the army went on 
its way to France. The next day King Charles 
called his lords together. "You see," said he, "these 
narrow passes. Whom shall I place to command the 
rearguard? Choose you a man yourselves." Said 
Ganelon, "Whom should we choose but my son-in-law, 
Count Roiand? You have no man in your host so 
valiant. Of a truth he will be the salvation of France. " 
The King said when he heard these words, "What ails 
you, Ganelon? You look like to one possessed." 

When Count Roland knew what was proposed con- 
cerning him, he spake out as a true knight should speak 
"I am right thankful to you, my father-in-law, that you 
have caused me to be put in this place. Of a truth the 
King of France shall lose nothing by my means, 
neither charger, nor mule, nor packhorse, nor beast of 
burden. " 

Then Roland turned to the King and said, "Give me 
twenty thousand only, so they be men of valour, and I 
will keep the passes in all safety. So long as I shall live, 
you need fear no man." 

Then Roland mounted his horse. With him were 
Oliver his comrade, and Otho and Berenger, and Gerard 
of Roussillon, an aged warrior, and others, men of 
renown. And Turpin the Archbishop cried, "By my 
head, I will go also. " So they chose twenty thousand 
warriors with whom to keep the passes. 

no Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Meanwhile King Charles had entered the valley of 
Roncesvalles. High were the mountains on either side 
of the way, and the valleys were gloomy and dark. But 
when the army had passed through the valley, they saw 
the fair land of Gascony, and as they saw it they thought 
of their homes and their wives and daughters. There 
was not one of them but wept for very tenderness of 
heart. But of all that company there was none sadder 
than the King himself, when he thought how he had 
left his nephew Count Roland behind him in the passes 
of Spain. 

And now the Saracen King Marsilas began to gather 
his army. He laid a strict command on all his nobles 
and chiefs that they should bring with them to Saragossa 
as many men as they could gather together. And when 
they were come to the city, it being the third day from 
the issuing of the King's command, they saluted the 
great image of Mahomet, the false prophet, that stood 
on the topmost tower. This done they went forth from 
the city gates. They made all haste, marching across 
the mountains and valleys of Spain till they came in 
sight of the standard of France, where Roland and 
Oliver and the Twelve Peers were ranged in battle 

The Saracen champions donned their coats of mail, 
of double substance most of them, and they set upon 
their heads helmets of Saragossa of well-tempered metal, 
and they girded themselves with swords of Vienna. Fair 
were their shields to view, their lances were from Valentia, 
their standards were of white, blue, and red. Their 
mules they left with the servants, and, mounting their 
chargers, so moved forwards. Fair was the day and 
bright the sun, as their armour flashed in the light and 

Roland in 

the drums were beaten so loudly that the Frenchmen 
heard the sound. 

Said Oliver to Roland, " Comrade, methinks we shall 
soon do battle with the Saracens." "God grant it," 
answered Roland. '"Tis our duty to hold the place for 
the King, and we will do it, come what may. As for 
me, I will not set an ill example. " 

Oliver climbed to the top of a hill, and saw from thence 
the whole army of the heathen. He cried to Roland his 
companion, "I see the flashing of arms. We men of 
France shall have no small trouble therefrom. This is 
the doing of Ganelon the traitor." 

"Be silent," answered Roland, "till you shall know; 
say no more about him." 

Oliver looked again from the hilltop, and saw how 
the Saracens came on. So many there were that he could 
not count their battalions. He descended to the plain 
with all speed, and came to the array of the French, and 
said, "I have seen more heathen than man ever yet saw 
together upon the earth. There are a hundred thousand 
at the least. We shall have such a battle with them as 
has never before been fought. My brethren of France, 
quit you like men, be strong; stand firm that you be not 
conquered." And all the army shouted with one voice, 
"Cursed be he that shall fly." 

Then Oliver turned to Roland, and said, "Sound your 
horn; my friend, Charles will hear it, and will return." 
"I were a fool," answered Roland, "so to do. Not so; 
but I will deal these heathen some mighty blows with 
Durendal my sword. They have been ill-advised to 
venture into these passes. I swear that they are con- 
demned to death, one and all." 

After a while, Oliver said again, "Friend Roland, 

H2 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

sound your horn of ivory. Then will the King return, 
and bring his army with him, to our help. " But Roland 
answered again, "I will not do dishonour to my kinsmen, 
or to the fair land of France. I have my sword; that 
shall suffice for me. These evil-minded heathen are 
gathered together against us to their own hurt. Surely 
not one of them shall escape from death. " " As for me, " 
said Oliver, "I see not where the dishonour would be. 
I saw the valleys and the mountains covered with the 
great multitude of Saracens. Theirs is, in truth, a mighty 
array, and we are but few." "So much the better," 
answered Roland. "It makes my courage grow. 'Tis 
better to die than to be disgraced. And remember, the 
harder our blows the more the King will love us. " 

Roland was brave, but Oliver was wise. "Consider," 
he said, "comrade. These enemies are over-near to us, 
and the King over-far. Were he here, we should not 
be in danger; but there are some here to-day who will 
never fight in another battle." 

Then Turpin the Archbishop struck spurs into his 
horse, and rode to a hilltop. Then he turned to the men 
of France, and spake: "Lords of France, King Charles 
has left us here; our King he is, and it is our 
duty to die for him. To-day our Christian Faith 
is in peril: do ye fight for it. Fight ye must; be 
sure of that, for there under your eyes are the Saracens. 
Confess, therefore, your sins, and pray to God that He 
have mercy upon you. And now for your soul's health 
I will give you all absolution. If you die, you will be 
God's martyrs, every one of you, and your places are 
ready for you in His Paradise." 

Thereupon the men of France dismounted, and knelt 
upon the ground, and the Archbishop blessed them in 

Roland 113 

God's name. "But look," said he, " I set you a 
penance — smite these pagans." Then the men of 
France rose to their feet. They had received absolu- 
tion, and were set free from all their sins, and the Arch- 
bishop had blessed them in the name of God. After this 
they mounted their swift steeds, and clad themselves in 
armour, and made themselves ready for the battle. 

Said Roland to Oliver, "Brother, you know that it is 
Ganelon who has betrayed us. Good store he has had 
of gold and silver as a reward; 'tis the King Marsilas 
that has made merchandise of us, but verily it is with our 
swords that he shall be paid." So saying, he rode on 
to the pass, mounted on his good steed Veillantif. His 
spear he held with the point to the sky; a white flag it 
bore with fringes of gold which fell down to his hands. 
A stalwart man was he, and his countenance was fair and 
smiling. Behind him followed Oliver, his friend; and 
the men of France pointed to him, saying, "See our 
champion!" Pride was in his eye when he looked 
towards the Saracens; but to the men of France his regard 
was all sweetness and humility. Full courteously he 
spake to them: "Ride not so fast, my lords," he said; 
"verily these heathen are come hither, seeking martyr- 
dom. 'Tis a fair spoil that we shall gather from them 
to-day. Never has King of France gained any so rich. " 
And as he spake, the two hosts came together. 

Said Oliver, "You did not deem it fit, my lord, to 
sound your horn. Therefore you lack the help which 
the King would have sent. Not his the blame, for he 
knows nothing of what has chanced. But do you, lords 
of France, charge as fiercely as you may, and yield not 
one whit to the enemy. Think upon these two things 
only — how to deal a straight blow and to take it. And 

ii4 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

let us not forget King Charles's cry of battle." Then 
all the men of France with one voice cried out, 
"Mountjoy!" He that heard them so cry had never 
doubted that they were men of valour. Proud was their 
array as they rode on to battle, spurring their horses that 
they might speed the more. And the Saracens, on then- 
part, came forward with a good heart. Thus did the 
Frenchmen and the heathen meet in the shock of battle. 
Full many of the heathen warriors fell that day. Not 
one of the Twelve Peers of France but slew his man. 
But of all none bare himself so valiantly as Roland. 
Many a blow did he deal to the enemy with his mighty 
spear, and when the spear was shivered in his hand, 
fifteen warriors having fallen before it, then he seized 
his good sword Durendal, and smote man after man 
to the ground. Red was he with the blood of his 
enemies, red was his hauberk, red his arms, red his 
shoulders, aye, and the neck of his horse. Not one of 
the Twelve lingered in the rear, or was slow to strike, 
but Count Roland was the bravest of the brave. "Well 
done, Sons of France!" cried Turpin the Archbishop, 
when he saw them lay on in such sort. 

Next to Roland for valour and hardihood came 
Oliver, his companion. Many a heathen warrior did 
he slay, till at last his spear was shivered in his hand. 
"What are you doing, comrade?" cried Roland, when 
he was aware of the mishap. "A man wants no staff in 
such a battle as this. 'Tis the steel and nothing else 
that he must have. Where is your sword Hautclere, 
with its hilt of gold and its pommel of crystal?" "On 
my word," said Oliver, "I have not had time to draw 
it ; I was so busy with striking. " But as he spake he 
drew the good sword from its scabbard, and smote a 

Roland 115 

heathen knight, Justin of the Iron Valley. A mighty 
blow it was, cleaving the man in twain down to his saddle 
— aye, and the saddle itself with its adorning of gold and 
jewels, and the very backbone also of the steed whereon 
he rode, so that horse and man fell dead together on the 
plains. "Well done!" cried Roland; "you are a true 
brother of mine. 'Tis such strokes as this that make the 
King love us. " 

Nevertheless, for all the valour of Roland and his 
fellows the battle went hard with the men of France. 
Many lances were shivered, many flags torn, and many 
gallant youths cut off in their prime. Never more 
would they see mother and wife. It was an ill deed that 
the traitor Ganelon wrought when he sold his fellows to 
King Marsilas ! 

And now there befell a new trouble. King Almaris, 
with a great host of heathen, coming by an unknown way, 
fell upon the rear of the host where there was another 
pass. Fiercely did the noble Walter that kept the same 
charge the newcomers, but they overpowered him and 
his followers. He was wounded with four several lances, 
and four times did he swoon, so that at the last he 
was constrained to leave the field of battle, that he might 
call the Count Roland to his aid. But small was the 
aid which Roland could give him or any one. Valiantly 
he held up the battle, and with him Oliver, and Turpin 
the Archbishop, and others also; but the lines of the men 
of France were broken, and their armour thrust through, 
and their spears shivered, and their flags trodden in 
the dust. For all this they made such slaughter among 
the heathen that King Almaris, who led the armies of 
the enemy, scarcely could win back his way to his own 
people, wounded in four places and sorely spent, A 

n6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

right good warrior was he; had he but been a Christian 
but few had matched him in battle. 

Count Roland saw how grievously his people had 
suffered and spake thus to Oliver his comrade: "Dear 
comrade, you see how many brave men lie dead upon the 
ground. Well may we mourn for fair France, widowed 
as she is of so many valiant champions. But why is our 
King not here? O Oliver, my brother, what shall we 
do to send him tidings of our state?" "I know not," 
answered Oliver. "Only this I know — that death is tc 
be chosen rather than dishonour." 

After a while Roland said again, "I shall blow my, 
horn; King Charles will hear it, where he has encamped 
beyond the passes, and he and his host will come back." 
"That would be ill done," answered Oliver, "and shame 
both you and your race. When I gave you this counsel 
you would have none of it. Now I like it not. 'Tis not 
for a brave man to sound the horn and cry for help now 
that we are in such case." "The battle is too hard for 
us," said Roland again, "and I shall sound my horn, 
that the King may hear." And Oliver answered again, 
"When I gave you this counsel, you scorned it. Now I 
myself like it not. 'Tis true that had the King been here, 
we had not suffered this loss. But the blame is not his. 
'Tis your folly, Count Roland, that has done to death all 
these men of France. But for that we should have con- 
quered in this battle, and have taken and slain King 
Marsilas. But now we can do nothing for France and 
the King. We can but die. Woe is me for our country, 
aye, and for our friendship, which will come to a grievous 
end this day." 

The Archbishop perceived that the two friends were 
at variance, and spurred his horse till he came where 

Roland 117 

they stood. "Listen to me," he said, "Sir Roland and 
Sir Oliver. I implore you not to fall out with each other 
in this fashion. We, sons of France, that are in this 
place, are of a truth condemned to death, neither will 
the sounding of your horn save us, for the King is far 
away, and cannot come in time. Nevertheless, I hold it 
to be well that you should sound it. When the King and 
his army shall come, they will find us dead — that I know 
full well. But they will avenge us, so that our enemies 
shall not go away rejoicing. And they will also recover 
our bodies, and will carry them away for burial in 
holy places, so that the dogs and wolves shall not devour 

"You say well," cried Roland, and he put his horn to 
his lips, and gave so mighty a blast upon it, that the sound 
was heard thirty leagues away. King Charles and his 
men heard it, and the King said, "Our countrymen are 
fighting with the enemy." But Ganelon answered, 
"Sire, had any but you so spoken, I had said that he 
spoke falsely." 

Then Roland blew his horn a second time; with great 
pain and anguish of body he blew it, and the red blood 
gushed from his lips ; but the sound was heard yet further 
than at first. Again the King heard it, and all his nobles, 
and all his men. "That," said he, "is Roland's horn; 
he never had sounded it were he not in battle with the 
enemy." But Ganelon answered again: "Believe me, 
Sire, there is no battle. You are an old man, and you 
have the fancies of a child. You know what a mighty 
man of valour is this Roland. Think you that any one 
would dare to attack him? No one, of a truth. Ride 
on, Sire, why halt you here ? The fair land of France is 
yet far away." 

n8 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Roland blew his horn a third time, and when the King 
heard it he said, "He that blew that horn drew a deep 
breath." And Duke Naymes cried out, "Roland is in 
trouble; on my conscience he is fighting with the enemy. 
Some one has betrayed him; 'tis he, I doubt not, that 
would deceive you now. To arms, Sire! utter your war- 
cry, and help your own house and your country. You 
have heard the cry of the noble Roland." 

Then King Charles bade all the trumpets sound, and 
forthwith all the men of France armed themselves, with 
helmets, and hauberks, and swords with pummels of 
gold. Mighty were their shields, and their lances strong, 
and the flags that they carried were white and red and 
blue. And when they made an end of their arm- 
ing they rode back with all haste. There was not 
one of them but said to his comrade, "If we find 
Roland yet alive, what mighty strokes will we strike for 

But Ganelon the King handed over to the knaves of 
his kitchen. "Take this traitor," said he, "who has sold 
his country." Ill did Ganelon fare among them. They 
pulled out his hair and his beard and smote him with 
their staves; then they put a great chain, such as that 
with which a bear is bound, about his neck, and made 
him fast to a pack-horse. 

This done, the King and his army hastened with all 
speed to the help of Roland. In the van and the rear 
sounded the trumpets as though they would answer 
Roland's horn. Full of wrath was King Charles as he 
rode; full of wrath were all the men of France. There 
was not one among them but wept and sobbed; there 
was not one but prayed, "Now, may God keep Roland 
alive till we come to the battlefield, so that we may strike 



a blow for him." Alas! it was all in vain; they could 
not come in time for all their speed. 

Count Roland looked round on the mountain-sides 
and on the plains. Alas! how many noble sons of France 
he saw lying dead upon them! "Dear friends," he said, 
weeping as he spoke, "may God have mercy on you and 
receive you into His Paradise! More loyal followers 
have I never seen. How is the fair land of France 
widowed of her bravest, and I can give you no help. 
Oliver, dear comrade, we must not part. If the enemy 
slay me not here, surely I shall be slain by sorrow. Come 
then, let us smite these heathen." 

Thus did Roland again charge the enemy, his good 
sword Durendal in his hand; as the stag flies before the 
hounds, so did the heathen fly before Roland. "By my 
faith," cried the Archbishop when he saw him, "that is 
a right good knight! Such courage, and such a steed, 
and such arms I love well to see. If a man be not brave 
and a stout fighter, he had better by far be a monk 
in some cloister where he may pray all day long for 
our sins." 

Now the heathen, when they saw how few the French- 
men were, took fresh courage. And the Caliph, spurring 
his horse, rode against Oliver and smote him in the middle 
of his back, making his spear pass right through him 
"That is a shrewd blow," he cried; "I have avenged, my 
friends and countrymen upon you." 

Then Oliver knew he was stricken to death, but he 
would not fall unavenged. With his great sword Haut- 
clere he smote the Caliph on his head and cleft it to the 
teeth. "Curse on you, pagan. Neither your wife nor 
any woman in the land of your birth shall boast that you 
have taken a penny's worth from King Charles!" But 

i2o Heroes Every Child Should Know 

to Roland he cried, "Come, comrade, help me; well I 
know that we two shall part in great sorrow this day/' 

Roland came with all speed, and saw his friend, how 
he lay all pale and fainting on the ground and how the 
blood gushed in great streams from his wound. ee I 
know not what to do," he cried. "This is an ill chance 
that has befallen you. Truly France is bereaved of her 
bravest son." So saying he went near to swoon in the 
saddle as he sat. Then there befell a strange thing. 
Oliver had lost so much of his blood that he could not any 
more see clearly or know who it was that was near him. 
So he raised up his arm and smote with all his strength 
that yet remained to him on the helmet of Roland his 
friend. The helmet he cleft in twain to the visor; but 
by good fortune it wounded not the head. Roland 
looked at him and said in a gentle voice, "Did you this 
of set purpose ? I am Roland your friend, and have not 
harmed you." "Ah!" said Oliver, "I hear you speak, 
but I cannot see you. Pardon me that I struck you; 
it was not done of set purpose." "It harmed me not," 
answered Roland; "with all my heart and before God 
I forgive you." And this was the way these two friends 
parted at the last. 

And now Oliver felt the pains of death come over him. 
He could no longer see nor hear. Therefore he turned 
his thoughts to making his peace with God, and clasping 
his hands lifted them to heaven and made his confession. 
"O Lord," he said, "take me into Paradise. And do 
Thou bless King Charles and the sweet land of France." 
And when he had said thus he died. And Roland looked 
at him as he lay. There was not upon earth a more sor- 
rowful man than he. "Dear comrade," he said, "this 
is indeed an evil day. Many a year have we two been 

Roland 121 

together. Never have I done wrong to you ; never have 
you done wrong to me. How shall I bear to live with- 
out you?" And he swooned where he sat on his horse. 
But the stirrup held him up that he did not fall to the 

When Roland came to himself he looked about him 
and saw how great was the calamity that had befallen 
his army. For now there were left alive to him two only, 
Turpin the Archbishop and Walter of Hum. Walter 
had but that moment come down from the hills where 
he had been fighting so fiercely with the heathen that all 
his men were dead; now he cried to Roland for help. 
"Noble Count, where are you? I am Walter of Hum, 
and am not unworthy to be your friend. Help me 
therefore. For see how my spear is broken and my 
shield cleft in twain, my hauberk is in pieces, and my 
body sorely wounded. I am about to die; but I have 
sold my life at a great price." When Roland heard 
him cry he set spurs to his horse and galloped to him. 
"Walter," said he, "you are a brave warrior and a 
trustworthy. Tell me now where are the thousand 
valiant men whom you took from my army. They were 
right good soldiers, and I am in sore need of them." 

"They are dead," answered Walter; "you will see 
them no more. A sore battle we had with the Saracens 
yonder on the hills; they had the men of Canaan there 
and the men of Armenia and the Giants; there were no 
better men in their army than these. We dealt with 
them so that they will not boast themselves of this day's 
work. But it cost us dear; all the men of France lie 
dead on the plain, and I am wounded to the death. And 
now, Roland, blame me not that I fled; for you are 
my lord, and all my trust is in you." 

122 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"I blame you not," said Roland, " only as long as you 
live help me against the heathen." And as he spake he 
took his cloak and rent it into strips and bound up Wal- 
ter's wounds therewith. This done he and Walter and 
the Archbishop set fiercely on the enemy. Five-and- 
twenty did Roland slay, and Walter slew six, and the 
f Archbishop five. Three valiant men of war they were; 
fast and firm they stood one by the other; hundreds 
there were of the heathen, but they dared not come near 
to these three valiant champions of France. They stood 
far off, and cast at the three spears and darts and javelins 
and weapons of every kind. Walter of Hum was slain 
forthwith; and the Archbishop's armour was broken, 
and he wounded, and his horse slain under him. Never- 
theless he lifted himself from the ground, still keeping 
a good heart in his breast. "They have not overcome 
me yet"; said he, "as long as a good soldier lives, he does 
not yield." 

Roland took his horn once more and sounded it, for 
he would know whether King Charles were coming. 
Ah me! it was a feeble blast that he blew. But the King 
heard it, and he halted and listened. "My lords!" said 
he, "things go ill for us, I doubt not. To-day we shall 
lose, I fear me much, my brave nephew Roland. I know 
by the sound of his horn that he has but a short time to 
live. Put your horses to their full speed, if you would 
come in time to help him, and let a blast be sounded by 
every trumpet that there is in the army." So all the 
trumpets in the host sounded a blast; all the valleys and 
hills re-echoed with the sound; sore discouraged were 
the heathen when they heard it. "King Charles has 
come again," they cried; "we are all as dead men. 
When he comes he shall not find Roland alive. 55 Then 

Roland 123 

four hundred of them, the strongest and most valiant 
knights that were in the army of the heathen, gathered 
themselves into one company, and made a yet fiercer 
assault on Roland. 

Roland saw them coming, and waited for them without 
fear. So long as he lived he would not yield himself to 
the enemy or give place to them. "Better death than 
flight," said he, as he mounted his good steed Veillantif, 
and rode towards the enemy. And by his side went 
Turpin the Archbishop on foot. Then said Roland to 
Turpin, "I am on horseback and you are on foot. But 
let us keep together; never will I leave you; we two will 
stand against these heathen dogs. They have not, I 
warrant, among them such a sword as Durendal." 
"Good," answered the Archbishop. "Shame to the 
man who does not smite his hardest. And though this 
be our last battle, I know well that King Charles will take 
ample vengeance for us." 

When the heathen saw these two stand together they 
fell back in fear and hurled at them spears and darts and 
javelins without number. Roland's shield they broke 
and his hauberk; bvt him they hurt not; nevertheless 
they did him a grievous injury, for they killed his good 
steed Veillantif. Thirty wounds did Veillantif receive, 
and he fell dead under his master. At last the Arch- 
bishop was stricken and Roland stood alone, for the 
heathen had fled from his presence. 

When Roland saw that the Archbishop was dead, his 
heart was sorely troubled in him. Never did he feel a 
greater sorrow for comrade slain, save Oliver only. 
"Charles of France," he said, "come as quickly as you 
may, many a gallant knight have you lost in Roncesvalles. 
But King Marsilas, on his part, has lost his army. For 

124 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

one that has fallen on this side there has fallen full forty 
on that." So saying he turned to the Archbishop; he 
crossed the dead man's hands upon his breast and said, 
"I commit thee to the Father's mercy. Never has man 
served his God with a better will, never since the begin- 
ning of the world has there lived a sturdier champion of 
the faith. May God be good to you and give you all 
good things!" 

Now Roland felt that his own death was near at hand. 
In one hand he took his horn, and in the other his good 
sword Durendal, and made his way the distance of a 
furlong or so till he came to a plain, and in the midst of 
the plain a little hill. On the top of the hill in the shade 
of two fair trees were four marble steps. There Roland 
fell in a swoon upon the grass. There a certain Saracen 
spied him. The fellow had feigned death, and had laid 
himself down among the slain, having covered his body 
and his face with blood. When he saw Roland, he raised 
himself from where he was lying among the slain and ran 
to the place, and, being full of pride and fury, seized the 
Count in his arms, crying aloud, "He is conquered, he is 
conquered, he is conquered, the famous nephew of King 
Charles! See, here is his sword ; 'tis a noble spoil that I 
shall carry back with me to Arabia." Thereupon he 
took the sword in one hand, with the other he laid hold of 
Roland's beard. But as the man laid hold, Roland came 
to himself, and knew that some one was taking his sword 
from him. He opened his eyes but not a word did he 
speak save this only, "Fellow, you are none of ours," and 
he smote him a mighty blow upon his helmet. The steel 
he brake through and the head beneath, and laid the man 
dead at his feet. "Coward," he said, "what made 
you so bold that you dared lay hands on Roland? 


I2 5 

Whosoever knows him will think you a fool for your 

And now Roland knew that death was near at hand. 
He raised himself and gathered all his strength together 
— ah me! how pale his face was! — and took in his hand 
his good sword Durendal. Before him was a great rock and 
on this in his rage and pain he smote ten mighty blows. 
Loud rang the steel upon the stone ; but it neither brake 
nor splintered. "Help me," he cried, "O Mary, our 
Lady. O my good sword, my Durendal, what an evil lot 
is mine! In the day when I must part with you, my 
power over you is lost. Many a battle I have won with 
your help; and many a kingdom have I conquered, that 
my Lord Charles possesses this day. Never has any one 
possessed you that would fly before another. So 
long as I live, you shall not be taken from me, so long 
have you been in the hands of a loyal knight." 

Then he smote a second time with the sword, this time 
upon the marble steps. Loud rang the steel, but neither 
brake nor splintered. Then Roland began to bemoan 
himself, "O my good Durendal," he said, "how bright 
and clear thou art, shining as shines the sun! Well I 
mind me of the day when a voice that seemed to come from 
heaven bade King Charles give thee to a valiant captain ; 
and forthwith the good King girded it on my side. Many 
a land have I conquered with thee for him, and now how 
great is my grief! Can I die and leave thee to be handled 
by some heathen ?" And the third time he smote a rock 
with it. Loud rang the steel, but it brake not, bounding 
back as though it would rise to the sky. And when 
Count Roland saw that he could not break the sword, he 
spake again but with more content in his heart. "O 
Durendal," he said, "a fair sword art thou, and holy as 

126 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

fair. There are holy relics in thy hilt, relics of St. Peter 
and St. Denis and St. Basil. These heathen shall never 
possess thee; nor shalt thou be held but by a Christian 

And now Roland knew that death was very near to 
him. He laid himself down with his head upon the grass 
putting under him his horn and his sword, with his face 
turned towards the heathen foe. Ask you why he did so ? 
To shew, forsooth, to Charlemagne and the men of 
France that he died in the midst of victory. This done 
he made a loud confession of his sins, stretching his hand 
to heaven. "Forgive me, Lord," he cried, "my sins, little 
and great, all that I have committed since the day of my 
birth to this hour in which I am stricken to death." So 
he prayed; and, as he lay, he thought of many things, 
of the countries which he had conquered, and of his dear 
Fatherland France, and of his kinsfolk, and of the good 
King Charles. Nor, as he thought, could he keep him- 
self from sighs and tears; yet one thing he remembered 
beyond all others — to pray for forgiveness of his sins. 
"O Lord," he said, "Who art the God of truth, and didst 
save Daniel Thy prophet from the lions, do Thou save 
my soul and defend it against all perils!" So speaking 
he raised his right hand, with the gauntlet yet upon it, to 
the sky, and his head fell back upon his arm and the 
angels carried him to heaven. So died the great Count 



WE NOW come to the great King Alfred, the best 
and greatest of all English Kings. We know 
quite enough of his history to be able to say that he 
really deserves to be so called, though I must warn 
you that, just because he left so great a name behind him, 
people have been fond of attributing to him things which 
really belonged to others. Thus you may sometimes see 
nearly all English laws and customs attributed to Alfred, 
as if he had invented them all for himself. You will 
sometimes hear that Alfred founded Trial by Jury, 
divided England into Counties, and did all kinds of other 
things. Now the real truth is that the roots and be- 
ginnings of most of these things are very much older than 
the time of Alfred, while the particular forms in which 
we have them now are very much later, But people have 
a way of fancying that everything must have been in- 
vented by some particular man, and as Alfred was more 
famous than anybody else, they hit upon Alfred as the 
most likely person to have invented them. 

But, putting aside fables, there is quite enough to show 
that there have been very few Kings, and very few men of 
any sort, so great and good as King Alfred. Perhaps the 
only equally good King we read of is Saint Louis of 
France; and though he was quite as good, we cannot 
set him down as being so great and wise as Alfred. Cer- 
tainly no King ever gave himself up more thoroughly 

128 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

than Alfred did fully to do the duties of his office. His 
whole life seems to have been spent in doing all that he 
could for the good of his people in every way. And it is 
wonderful in how many ways his powers showed them- 
selves. That he was a brave warrior is in itself no par- 
ticular praise in an age when almost every man was the 
same. But it is a great thing for a prince so large a part 
of whose time was spent in fighting to be able to say 
that all his wars were waged to set free his country from 
the most cruel enemies. 

And we may admire too the wonderful way in which 
he kept his mind always straight and firm, never either 
giving way to bad luck or being puffed up by good luck. 
We read of nothing like pride or cruelty or injustice of any 
kind either towards his own people or towards his en- 
emies. And if he was a brave warrior, he was many 
other things besides. He was a lawgiver; at least he 
collected and arranged the laws, and caused them to be 
most carefully administered. He was a scholar, and 
wrote and translated many books for the good of his 
people. He encouraged trade and enterprise of all kinds, 
and sent men to visit distant parts of the world, and bring 
home accounts of what they saw. And he was a thor- 
oughly good man and a devout Christian in all relations 
of life. In short, one hardly knows any other character 
in all history so perfect ; there is so much that is good in 
so many different ways ; and though no doubt Alfred had 
his faults like other people, yet he clearly had none, at 
any rate in the greater part of his life, which took away at 
all seriously from his general goodness. One wonders 
that such a man was never canonized as a Saint; most 
certainly many people have received that name who did 
not deserve it nearly so well as he did. 

King Alfred 129 

Alfred, or, as his name should really be spelled, Alfred,* 
was the youngest son of King ^Ethelwulf, and was born 
at Wantage in Berkshire in 849. His mother was Osburh 
daughter of Oslac the King's cup-bearer, who came of 
the royal house of the Jutes in Wight. Up to the age of 
twelve years Alfred was fond of hunting and other sports 
but he had not been taught any sort of learning, not so 
much as to read his own tongue. But he loved the old 
English songs; and one day his mother had a beautiful 
book of songs with rich pictures and fine painted initial 
letters, such as you may often see in ancient books. 
And she said to her children, "I will give this beautiful 
book to the one of you who shall first be able to read 
it." And Alfred said, "Mother, will you really give 
me the book when I have learned to read it?" And 
Osburh said, "Yes, my son." So Alfred went and 
found a master, and soon learned to read. Then he 
came to his mother, and read the songs in the beautiful 
book and took the book for his own. 

In 868, when he was in his twentieth year, while his 
brother /Ethelred was King, Alfred married. His wife's 
name was Ealhswyth ; she was the daughter of ^Ethelred 
called the Mickle or Big, Alderman of the Gainas in 
Lincolnshire, and her mother Eadburh was of the royal 
house of the Mercians. It is said that on the very day 
of his marriage he was smitten with a strange disease, 
which for twenty years never quite left him, and fits of 
which might come on at any time. If this be true, it 
makes all the great things that he did even more wonder- 


Meanwhile the great Danish invasion had begun in 

* That is, the rede or cocinsel of the elves. A great many Old-English 
names are called after the elves or fairies, 

130 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

the northern parts of England. There are many stories 
told in the old Northern Songs as to the cause of it. 
Some tell how Ragnar Lodbrog, a great hero of these 
Northern tales, was seized by^Ella, King of the Northum- 
brians, and was thrown into a dungeon full of serpents, 
and how, while he was dying of the bites of the serpents, 
he sang a wonderful death-song, telling of ail his old 
fights, and calling on his sons to come and avenge him. 
The year 871 the Danes for the first time entered 
Wessex. Nine great battles, besides smaller skirmishes, 
were fought this year, in some of which the English 
won and in others the Danes. One famous battle was 
at Ashdown, in Berkshire. We are told that the heathen 
men were in two divisions; one was commanded by their 
two Kings Bagsecg and Halfdene, and the other by five 
Earls, Sidroc the Old, Sidroc the Young, Osbeorn, 
Fraena, and Harold. And King ^Ethelred was set against 
the Kings and Alfred the ^Etheling against the Earls. 
And the heathen men came on against them. But 
King iEthelred heard mass in his tent. And men said, 
"Come forth, O King, to the fight, for the heathen men 
press hard upon us." And King ^Ethelred said, "I 
will serve God first and man after, so I will not come 
forth till all the words of the mass be ended. " So King 
iEthelred abode praying, and the heathen men fought 
against Alfred the ^Etheling. And Alfred said, "I cannot 
abide till the King my brother comes forth ; I must either 
flee, or fight alone with the heathen men. " So Alfred 
the ^Etheling and his men fought against the five Earls. 
Now the heathen men stood on the higher ground and 
the Christians on the lower. Yet did Alfred go forth 
trusting in God, and he made his men hold close together 
with their shields, and they went forth like a wild boar 

King Alfred 131 

against the hounds. And they fought against the heathen 
men and smote them, and slew the five Earls, Sidroc the 
Old, Sidroc the Young, Osbeorn, Frama, and Harold. 
Then the mass was over, and King ^Ethelred came forth 
and fought against the two Kings, and slew Bagsecg 
the King with his own hand and smote the heathen men 
with a great slaughter and chased them even unto 

In 871, on ^Ethelred's death, Alfred became King of 
the West-Saxons and Over-lord of all England, as his 
father had appointed so long before with the consent of 
his Wise Men. 

The Danes did not come again into Wessex till 876. 
But though the West-Saxons had no fighting by land 
during these years, things were not quite quiet, for in 
875 King Alfred had a fight at sea against some of the 
Danish pirates. This sea-fight is worth remembering 
as being, I suppose, the first victory won by the English- 
men at sea, where Englishmen have since won so many 
victories. King Alfred then fought against seven Danish 
ships, of which he took one and put the rest to flight. 
It is somewhat strange that we do not hear more than 
we do of warfare by sea in these times, especially when 
we remember how in earlier times the Angles and 
Saxons had roved about in their ships, very much as 
the Danes and other Northmen were doing now. It 
would seem that the English, after they settled in Britain, 
almost left off being a seafaring people. We find Alfred 
and other Kings doing what they could to keep up a fle^t 
and to stir up a naval spirit among their people. And 
in some degree they did so ; still we do not find the English, 
for a long while after this time, doing nearly so much by 
sea as they did by land. This was a pity; for ships might 

132 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

then, as in later times, have been wooden walls. It is 
much better to meet an enemy at sea, and to keep him 
from landing in your country, than to let him land, even 
if you can beat him when he has landed. 

But in 876 the Danes came again into Wessex; and 
we thus come to the part of Alfred's life which is at once 
the saddest and the brightest. It is the time when his 
luck was lowest and when his spirit was highest. The 
army under Guthorm or Guthrum, the Danish King 
of East-Anglia, came suddenly to Wareham in Dorset- 
shire. The Chronicle says that they "bestole" — that is, 
came secretly or escaped — from the West-Saxon army, 
which seems to have been waiting for them. This time 
Alfred made peace with the Danes, and they gave him 
some of their chief men for hostages, and they swore to 
go out of the land. They swore this on the holy bracelet, 
which was the most solemn oath in use among the heathen 
Northmen, and on which they had never before sworn 
at any of the times when they had made peace with the 
English. But they did not keep their oath any better 
for taking it in this more solemn way. The part of the 
host which had horses "bestole away." King Alfred 
rode after the Danish horse as far as Exeter, but he did 
not overtake them till they had got there, and were safe 
in the stronghold. Then they made peace, swearing 
oaths, and giving as many hostages as the King asked for. 

And now we come to the terrible year 878, the greatest 
and saddest and most glorious in all Alfred's life. In the 
very beginning of the year, just af £r Twelfth-night, the 
Danish host again came sudJe^sty — "bestole" as the 
Chronicle says — to Chippenham. Then "they rode 
through the West-Saxons' land, and there sat down, 
and mickle of the folk over the sea they drove, and of 

King Alfred 133 

the others the most deal they rode over; all but the King 
Alfred; he with a little band hardly fared [went] after the 
woods and on the moor- fastnesses." This time of 
utter distress lasted only a very little while, for in a few 
months Alfred was again at the head of an army and able 
to fight against the Danes. 

It was during this trouble that Alfred stayed in the 
hut of a neatherd or swineherd of his, who knew who 
he was, though his wife did not know him. One day 
the woman set some cakes to bake, and bade the King, 
who was sitting by the fire mending his bow and arrows, 
to tend them. Alfred thought more of his bow and arrows 
than he did of the cakes, and let them burn. Then the 
woman ran in and cried out, " There, don't you see the 
cakes on fire? Then wherefore turn them not? You 
are glad enough to eat them when they are piping hot." 

We are told that this swineherd or neatherd afterwards 
became Bishop of Winchester. They say that his name 
was Denewulf, and that the King saw that, though he 
was in so lowly a rank, he was naturally a very wise man. 
So he had him taught, and at last gave him the Bishop- 

I do not think that I can do better than tell you the 
next happening to Alfred, as it is in the Chronicle, only 
changing those words which you might not understand. 

" And that ilk [same] winter was Iwer's and Healfdene's 
brother among the West-Saxons in Devonshire; and 
him there men slew and eight hundred men with him 
and forty men of his host. And there was the banner 
taken which they th : F iven hight [call]. And after 
this Easter wrought King Alfred with his little band a 
work [fortress] at Athelney, and out of that work was he 
striving with the [Danish] host, and the army sold [gave] 

1^4 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

him hostages and mickle oaths, and eke they promised 
him that their King should receive baptism. And 
this they fulfilled. And three weeks after came 
King Guthrum with thirty of the men that in the 
host were worthiest, at Aller, that is near Athelney. 
And him the King received at his baptism,* and his 
chrisom-loosingf was at Wedmore. And he was 
twelve nights with the King, and he honoured him 
and his feres [companions] with mickle fee [money]." 

Thus you see how soon King Alfred's good luck came 
back to him again. The Raven was a famous banner 
of the Danes, said to have been worked by the daughters 
of Ragnar Lodbrog. It was thought to have wonderful 
powers, so that they could tell by the way in which the 
raven held his wings whether they would win or not in 

You see the time of utter distress lasted only from 
soon after Twelfth-night to Easter, and even during 
that time the taking of the Raven must have cheered the 
English a good deal. After Easter things began to mend, 
when Alfred built his fort at Athelney and began to 
skirmish with the Danes, and seven weeks later came 
the great victory at Ethandun, which set Wessex free. 
Some say that the white horse which is cut in the 
side of the chalk hills near Edington was cut then, that 
men might remember the great battle of Ethandun. 
But it has been altered in modern times to make it look 
more like a real horse. 

All this time Alfred seems to have kept his headquar- 
ters at Athelney. Thence they went to Wedmore. 

* That is, was his godfather. 

"f That is, he laid aside the chrisom or white garment which a newly 
baptised person wore. 

King Alfred 135 

There the Wise Men came together, and Alfred and Gu- 
thorm (or, to give him the name by which he was baptised, 
^Ethelstan) made a treaty. This treaty was very much 
better kept than any treaty with the Danes had 
ever been kept before. The Danes got much the 
larger part of England; still Alfred contrived to keep 
London. Some accounts say that only those of the Danes 
stayed in England who chose to become Christians, and 
that the rest went away into Gaul under a famous leader 
of theirs named Hasting. Anyhow, in 880 they went 
quite away into what was now their own land of East- 
Anglia, and divided it among themselves. Thus Alfred 
had quite freed his own Kingdom from the Danes, though 
he was obliged to leave so much of the island in their 
hands. And even through all these misfortunes, the 
Kingdom of Wessex did in some sort become greater. 
Remember that in 880, when Alfred had done so many 
great things, he was still only thirty-one years old. 

We can see how much people always remembered and 
thought of Alfred, by there being many more stories told 
of him than of almost any other of the old Kings. One 
story is that Alfred, wishing to know what the Danes were 
about and how strong they were, set out one day from 
Athelney in the disguise of a minstrel or juggler, and went 
into the Danish camp, and stayed there several days, 
amusing the Danes with his playing, till he had seen all 
that he wanted, and then went back without any one 
finding him out. This is what you may call a soldier's 
story, while some of the others are rather what monks and 
clergymen would like to tell. Thus there is a tale which 
is told in a great many different ways, but of which the 
following is the oldest shape. 

"Now King Alfred was driven from his Kingdom by 

136 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

the Danes, and he lay hid for three years in the isle of 
Glastonbury. And it came to pass on a day that all 
his folk were gone out to fish, save only Alfred himself 
and his wife and one servant whom he loved. And 
there came a pilgrim to the King, and begged for food. 
And the King said to his servant, 'What food have we 
in the house ? ' And his servant answered, ' My Lord, 
we have in the house but one loaf and a little wine.' 
Then the King gave thanks to God, and said, ' Give half 
of the loaf and half of the wine to this poor pilgrim. ' So 
the servant did as his lord commanded him, and gave to 
the pilgrim half of the loaf and half of the wine, and the 
pilgrim gave great thanks to the King. And when the 
servant returned, he found the loaf whole, and the wine 
as much as there had been aforetime. And he greatly 
wondered, and he wondered also how the pilgrim had 
come into the isle, for that no man could come there 
save by water, and the pilgrim had no boat. And the 
King greatly wondered also. And at the ninth hour 
came back the folk who had gone to fish. And they had 
three boats full of fish, and they said, Xo, we have caught 
more fish this day than in all the three years that we have 
tarried in this island. ' And the King was glad, and he 
and his folk were merry ; yet he pondered much upon that 
which had come to pass. And when night came, the King 
went to his bed with Ealhswyth his wife. And the Lady 
slept, but the King lay awake and thought of all that had 
come to pass by day. And presently he saw a great light, 
like the brightness of the sun, and he saw an old man 
with black hair, clothed in priest's garments, and with 
a mitre on his head, and holding in his right hand a book 
of the Gospels adorned with gold and gems. And the 
old man blessed the King, and the King said unto him, 

King Alfred 137 

'Who art thou?' And he answered, 'Alfred, my son, 
rejoice; for I am he to whom thou didst this day give 
thine alms, and I am called Cuthberht the soldier of 
Christ. Now be strong and very courageous, and be of 
joyful heart, and hearken diligently to the things which 
I say unto thee; for henceforth I will be thy shield and 
thy friend, and I will watch over thee and over thy sons 
after thee. And now I will tell thee what thou must do. 
Rise up early in the morning, and blow thine horn thrice, 
that thy enemies may hear it and fear, and by the ninth 
hour thou shalt have around thee five hundred men 
harnassed for the battle. And this shall be a sign unto 
thee that thou mayest believe. And after seven days 
thou shalt have by God's gift and my help all the folk of 
this land gathered unto thee upon the mount that is 
called Assandun. And thus shalt thou fight against 
thine enemies, and doubt not that thou shalt overcome 
them. Be thou therefore glad of heart, and be strong 
and very courageous, and fear not, for God hath given 
thine enemies into thine hand. And He hath given thee 
also all this land and the Kingdom of thy fathers, to thee 
and to thy sons and to thy sons' sons after thee. Be thou 
faithful to me and to my folk, because that unto thee is 
given all the land of Albion. Be thou righteous, because 
thou art chosen to be the King of all Britain. So may God 
be merciful unto thee, and I will be thy friend, and none 
of thine enemies shall ever be able to overcome thee. ' 
Then was King Alfred glad at heart, and he was strong and 
and very courageous, for that he knew that he would 
overcome his enemies by the help of God and Saint 
Cuthberht his patron. So in the morning he arose, and 
sailed to the land, and blew his horn three times, and 
when his friends heard it they were glad, and when his 

138 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

enemies heard it they feared. And by the ninth hour,, 
according to the word of the Lord, there were gathered 
unto him five hundred men of the bravest and dearest 
of his friends. And he spake unto them and told them 
all that God had said unto him by the mouth of his servant 
Cuthberht, and he told them that, by the gift of God and 
by the help of Saint Cuthberht, they would overcome their 
enemies and win back their own land. And he bade them 
as Saint Cuthberht had taught him, to fear God alway 
and to be alway righteous toward all men. And he bade 
his son Edward who was by him to be faithful to God 
and Saint Cuthberht, and so he should alway have the 
victory over his enemies. So they went forth to battle 
and smote their enemies and overcame them, and King 
Alfred took the Kingdom of all Britain, and he ruled 
well and wisely over the just and the unjust for the rest 
of his days." 

Now is there any truth in all this story? I think 
there is thus much, that Alfred, for some reason or 
other, thought he was under the special protection of 
Saint Cuthberht. For several years after 880 there was 
peace in the land, and for a good many more years still 
there was much less fighting than there had been be- 
fore. It was no doubt at this time that Alfred 
was able to do all those things for the good 
of his people of which we hear so much. He 
had now more time than either before or after for 
making his laws, writing his books, founding his monas- 
teries, and doing all that he did. You may wonder how 
he found time to do so much; but it was by the only way 
by which anybody can do anything, namely, by never 
wasting his time, and by having fixed times of the day 
for everything. Alfred did not, like most other writers 

King Alfred 139 

of that time, write in Latin, so that hardly anybody but 
the clergy could read or understand what he wrote. He 
loved our own tongue, and was especially fond of the 
Old-English songs, and all that he wrote he wrote in 
English that all his people might understand. His 
works were chiefly translations from Latin books; what 
we should have valued most of all, his note-book or hand- 
book, containing his remarks on various matters, is lost. 
He translated into English the History of Baeda, the 
History of Orosius, some of the works of Pope Gregory 
the Great, and the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. 
Perhaps you will ask why he did not rather translate 
some of the great and famous Greek and Latin writers 
of earlier times. Now we may be sure that King Alfred 
did not understand Greek at all ; very few people in those 
days in the West of Europe knew any Greek, except 
those who needed to use the language for dealing with 
the men in the Eastern Empire who still spoke it. In- 
deed Alfred complains that, when he came to the Crown, 
very few people, even among the clergy, understood even 
Latin at all well. And as for Latin books, no doubt 
Alfred thought that the writings of Christians would be 
more edifying to his people than those of the old heathens. 
He chose the History of Orosius, as a general history of 
the world, and that of Baeda, as a particular history of 
England. Boethius was a Roman Consul in the begin- 
ning of the sixth century, who was put to death by the 
great Theodoric, King of the East-Goths, who then ruled 
over Italy. While he was in prison he wrote the book 
which King Alfred translated. He seems not to have 
been a Christian; at least there is not a single Christian 
expression in his book. But people fancied that he was 
not only a Christian, but a saint and a martyr, most likely 

140 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

because Theodoric, who put him to death, was not an 
orthodox Christian, but an Arian. Alfred, in translating 
his books, did not always care to translate them quite 
exactly, but he often altered and put in things of his own, 
if he thought he could thus make them more improving. 
So in translating Boethius, he altered a good deal, to 
make the wise heathen speak like a Christian. So in 
translating Orosius, where Orosius gives an account of 
the world, Alfred greatly enlarged the account of all the 
northern part of Europe, of which Alfred naturally knew 
much more than Orosius did. 

Alfred was also very careful in the government of his 
Kingdom, especially in seeing that justice was properly 
administered. So men said of him in their songs, much 
as they had long before said of King Edwin in Northum- 
berland, that he hung up golden bracelets by the road- 
side, and that no man dared to steal them. In his collec- 
tion of laws, he chiefly put in order the laws of the older 
Kings, not adding many of his own, because he said that 
he did not know how those who came after him might 
like them. 

King Alfred was very attentive to religious matters, 
and gave great alms to the poor and gifts to churches. 
He also founded two monasteries; one was for nuns, at 
Shaftesbury in Dorsetshire, of which he made his own 
daughter, ^Ethelgifu, abbess. The other was for monks 
at Athelney; you can easily see why he should build it 
there. He also sent several embassies to Rome, where 
he got Pope Marinus to grant certain privileges to the 
English School at Rome; the Pope also sent him what 
was thought to be a piece of the wood of the True Cross, 
that on which our Lord Jesus Christ died. He also sent 
an embassy to Jerusalem, and had letters from Abel the 

King Alfred 141 

Patriarch there. And what seems stranger than all, he 
sent an embassy all the way to India, with alms for the 
Christians there, called the Christians of Saint Thomas 
and Saint Bartholomew. 

Lastly, there seems some reason to think that the 
Chronicle began to be put together in its present shape 
in Alfred's time, and that it was regularly gone on with 
afterward, so that from the time of Alfred onward we 
have a history which was regularly written down as 
things happened. 

All these things happened mainly in the middle years 
of the reign of Alfred, when there was so much less fight- 
ing than there was before and after, and when some 
years seem to have been quite peaceable. Guthorm- 
iEthelstan and his Danes in East-Anglia were for 
some years true to the treaty of Wedmore, and the other 
Danes seem just now to have been busy in invading Gaul 
and other parts of the continent rather than England. 
Also King Alfred had now got a fleet, so that he often met 
them at sea and kept them from landing. This he did 
in 882, and we do not find that any Danes landed again 
in England till 885. In that year part of the army which 
had been plundering along the coast of Flanders and 
Holland came over to England, landed in Kent, and 
besieged Rochester. But the citizens withstood them 
bravely, and Alfred gathered an army and drove the 
Danes to their ships. They seem then to have gone to 
Essex and to have plundered there with their ships, 
getting help from the Danes who were settled in 
East-Anglia, or at least from such of them as still were 
heathens. Alfred's fleet however quite overcame them 
and took away their treasure, but his fleet was again 
attacked and defeated by the East- Anglian Danes. It 

142 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

would seem that in some part of this war Guthorm- 
iEthelstan was helped by Hrolf, otherwise called Rollo, 
the great Northern chief. 

The Danish wars began again in 893. For years 
now there was a great deal of fighting. Two large 
bodies of Danes, one of them under the famous chief 
Hasting, landed in Kent in 893 and fixed themselves in 
fortresses which they built. And the Danes who had 
settled in Northumberland and East-Anglia helped them, 
though they had all sworn oaths to King Alfred, and 
those in East-Anglia had also given hostages. There 
was fighting all over the south of England throughout 
894, and the King had to go constantly backward and 
forward to keep up with the Danes. One time Alfred 
took a fort in Kent, in which were the wife and two sons 
of Hasting. Now Hasting had not long before given 
oaths and hostages to Alfred, and the two boys had been 
baptised, the King being godfather to one of them and 
Alderman ^Ethelred to the other. But Hasting did not 
at all keep to his oath, but went on plundering all the 
same. Still, when the boys and their mother were taken, 
Alfred would not do them any harm, but gave them up 
again to Hasting. 

In 897 we read that Alfred made some improvements 
in his ships. "They were full-nigh twice as long as the 
others; some had sixty oars, some more; they were both 
swifter and steadier and eke higher than the others ; they 
were neither on the Frisian shape nor on the Danish, but 
as himself thought that they useful might be." These 
new ships seem to have done good service, though one 
time they got aground, seemingly because they were so 
large, and the Danes were therefore able to sail out before 
them. These sea-fights along the south coast were 

King Alfred 143 

nearly the last things that we hear of in Alfred's reign. 
The crews of two Danish ships were brought to Win- 
chester to Alfred and there hanged. One cannot blame 
him for this, as these Danes were mere pirates, not en- 
gaged in any lawful war, and many of them had been 
spared, and had made oaths to Alfred, and had broken 
them, over and over again. 

This was in 897; the rest of King Alfred's reign seems 
to have been spent in peace. In 901 the great King died 
himself. He was then only fifty-two years old. Alfred's 
wife, the Lady Ealhswyth, lived a little while after her 
husband, till 903 or 905. King Alfred was buried at 
Winchester in the New Minster which he himself began 
to found and which was finished by his son Edward. It 
then stood close to the Old Minster, that is, the cathedral 
church. Afterward it was moved out of the city and 
was called Hyde Abbey. But you cannot see King 
Alfred's grave there now, because everything has been 
destroyed, and the bones of the great King have been 
turned out, to make room for a prison. 



AFTERWARDS the Castillians arrived, and they 
kissed his hands in homage, all, save only my 
Cid. And when King Don Alfonso saw that the Cid 
did not do homage and kiss his hand, as all the other 
chief persons had done, he said, "Since now ye have all 
received me for your Lord, and given me authority 
ever ye, I would know of the Cid Ruydiez why he will 
not kiss my hand and acknowledge me; for I would do 
something for him, as I promised unto my father King 
Don Ferrando, when he commended him to me and to 
my brethren. And the Cid arose and said, "Sir, all whom 
you see here present, suspect that by your counsel the 
King Don Sancho your brother came to his death ; and 
therefore I say unto you that, unless you clear yourself 
of this, as by right you should do, I will never kiss your 
hand, nor receive you for my lord." Then said the King, 
"Cid, what you say pleases me well; and here I swear to 
God and to St. Mary, that I never slew him, nor took 
counsel for his death. And I beseech ye therefore all, 
as friends and true vassals, that ye tell me how I may 
clear myself." And the chiefs who were present said, 
that he and twelve of the knights who came with him 
from Toledo, should make this oath in the church ai St. 
Gadea at Burgos, and that so he should be cleared. 

So the King and all his company took horse and went 
to Burgos. And when the day appointed for the oath 


The Cid 145 

was come, the King came forward upon a high stage that 
all the people might see him, and my Cid came to him to 
receive the oath; and my Cid took the book of the Gospels 
and opened it, and laid it upon the altar, and the King 
laid his hands upon it, and the Cid said unto him, "King 
Don Alfonso, you come here to swear concerning the 
death of King Don Sancho your brother, that you neither 
slew him nor took counsel for his death; say now you 
and these hidalgos, if ye swear this." And the King and 
the hidalgos answered and said, "Yea, we swear it." 
And the Cid said, "If ye knew of this thing, or gave com- 
mand that it should be done, ma)' you die even such a 
death as your brother the King Don Sancho, by the 
hand of a villain whom you trust; one who is not a 
hidalgo, from another land, not a Castillian"; and the 
King and the knights who were with him said "Amen." 
And the King's colour changed; and the Cid repeated 
the oath unto him a second time, and the King and 
the twelve knights said "Amen" to it in like manner, and 
in like manner the countenance of the King was changed 
again. And my Cid repeated the oath unto him a 
third time, and the King and the knights said "Amen." 
But the wrath of the King was exceedingly great, and 
he said to the Cid, "Ruydiez, why dost thou thus press 
me, man? To-day thou swearest me, and to-morrow 
thou wilt kiss my hand." And from that day forward 
there was no love toward my Cid in the heart of the 

After this King Don Alfonso assembled together all 
his power and went against the Moors. And the Cid 
should have gone with him, but he fell sick and perforce 
therefore abode at home. And while the King was 
going through Andalusia, having the land at his mercy, 

146 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

a great power of the Moors assembled together on the 
other side, and entered the land, and did much evil. At 
this time the Cid was gathering strength; and when he 
heard that the Moors were in the country, laying waste 
before them, he gathered together what force he could, 
and went after them; and the Moors, when they heard 
this, began to fly. And the Cid followed them as far as 
Toledo, slaying and burning, and plundering and destroy- 
ing, and laying hands on all whom he found, so that he 
brought back seven thousand prisoners, men and women ; 
and he and all his people returned rich and with great 
honour. But when the King of Toledo heard of the 
hurt which he had received at the hands of the Cid, he 
sent to King Don Alfonso to complain thereof. And 
the King was greatly troubled. And he went with all 
speed to Burgos, and sent from thence to bid the Cid 
come unto him. 

Now my Cid knew the evil disposition of the King 
toward him, and when he received his bidding he made 
answer that he would meet him between Burgos and 
Bivar. And the King went out from Burgos and came 
nigh unto Bivar; and the Cid came up to him and would 
have kissed his hand, but the King withheld it, and said 
angrily unto him, " Ruydiez, quit my land." Then the 
Cid clapt spurs to the mule upon which he rode, and 
vaulted into a piece of ground which was his own in- 
heritance, and answered, "Sir, I am not in your land, 
but in my own." And the King replied full wrathfully, 
" Go out of my kingdoms without any delay." And the 
Cid made answer, " Give me then thirty days' time, as is 
the right of the hidalgos"; and the King said he would 
not, but that if he were not gone in nine days' time he 
would come and look for him. The counts were well 

The Cid 147 

pleased at this; but all the people of the land were sor- 
rowful. And then the King and the Cid parted. And 
the Cid sent for all his friends and his kinsmen and vas- 
sals, and told them how King Don Alfonso had banished 
him from the land, and asked of them who would follow 
him into banishment, and who would remain at home. 
Then Alvar Fafiez, who was his cousin-german, came 
forward and said, "Cid, we will all go with you, through 
desert and through peopled country, and never fail you. 
In your service will we spend our mules and horses, our 
wealth and our garments, and ever while we live be unto 
you loyal friends and vassals." And they all confirmed 
what Alvar Fafiez had said; and the Cid thanked them 
for their love, and said that there might come a time in 
which he should guerdon them. 

And as he was about to depart he looked back upon 
his own home, and when he saw his hall deserted, the 
household chests unfastened, the doors open, no cloaks 
hanging up, no seats in the porch, no hawks upon the 
perches, the tears came into his eyes, and he said, "My 
enemies have done this. God be praised for all things." 
And he turned toward the East and knelt and said, "Holy 
Mary Mother, and all Saints, pray to God for me, that He 
may give me strength to destroy all the Pagans, and to 
win enough from them to requite my friends therewith, 
and all those who follow and help me." Then he called 
for Alvar Fafiez and said unto him, "Cousin, the poor 
have no part in the wrong which the King hath done us; 
see now that no wrong be done unto them along our 
road," and he called for his horse. 

My Cid Ruydiez entered Burgos, having sixty stream- 
ers in his company. And men and women went forth to 
see him, and the men of Burgos and the women of Burgos 

148 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

were at their windows, weeping, so great was their sor- 
row; and they said with one accord, "God, how good a 
vassal if he had but a good Lord!" and willingly would 
each have bade him come in, but no one dared so to do. 
For King Don Alfonso in his anger had sent letters to 
Burgos, saying that no man should give the Cid a lodg' 
ing; and that whosoever disobeyed should lose all that 
he had, and moreover the eyes in his head. Great sor- 
row had these Christian folk at this, and they hid them- 
selves when he came near them because they did not 
dare speak to him; and my Cid went to his Posada, and 
when he came to the door he found it fastened, for fear 
of the King. And his people called out with a loud 
voice, but they within made no answer. And the Cid 
rode up to the door, and took his foot out of the stirrup, 
and gave it a kick, but the door did not open with it, for 
it was well secured. A little girl of nine years old then 
came out of one of the houses and said unto him, " O Cid, 
the King hath forbidden us to receive you. We dare not 
open our doors to you, for we should lose our houses 
and all that we have, and the eyes in our head. Cid, 
our evil would not help you, but God and all His saints 
be with you." And when she had said this she returned 
into the house. And when the Cid knew what the King 
had done he turned away from the door and rode up 
to St. Mary's, and there he alighted and knelt down, 
and prayed with all his heart; and then he mounted 
again and rode out of the town and pitched his tent 
near Arlanzon, upon the sands. My Cid Ruydiez, he 
who in a happy hour first girt on his sword, took up 
his lodging upon the sands, because there was none 
who would receive him within their door. He had a 
good company round about him, and there he lodged 

The Cid 149 

Moreover the King had given orders that no food 
should be sold them in Burgos, so that they could not 
buy even a pennyworth. But Martin Antolinez, who 
was a good Burgalese, he supplied my Cid and all his 
company with bread and wine abundantly. "Cam- 
peador," said he to the Cid, "to-night we will rest here, 
and to-morrow we will be gone: I shall be accused for 
what I have done in serving you, and shall be in the 
King's displeasure; but following your fortunes, sooner 
or later, the King will have me for his friend, and if not, 
I do not care a fig for what I leave behind." Now this 
Martin Antolinez was nephew unto the Cid, being the 
son of his brother, Ferrando Diaz. And the Cid said unto 
him, "Martin Antolinez, you are a bold lancier; if I live 
I will double you your pay. You see I have nothing 
with me, and yet must provide for my companions. I 
will take two chests and fill them with sand, and do you 
go in secret to Rachel and Vidas, and tell them to come 
hither privately; for I cannot take my treasures with me 
because of their weight, and will pledge them in their 
hands. Let them come for the chests at night, that no 
man may see them. God knows that I do this thing more 
of necessity than of wilfulness; but by God's good help 
I shall redeem all." Now Rachel and Vidas were rich 
Jews, from whom the Cid used to receive money for his 
spoils. And Martin Antolinez went in quest of them, 
and he passed through Burgos and entered into the Castle; 
and when he saw them he said, "Ah Rachel and Vidas, 
my dear friends! now let me speak with ye in secret." 
And they three went apart. And he said to them, " Give 
me your hands that you will not discover me, neither to 
Moor nor Christian ! I will make you rich men for ever. 
The Campeador went for the tribute and he took great 

150 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

wealth, and some of it he has kept for himself. He has 
two chests full of gold; ye know that the King is in anger 
against him, and he cannot carry these away with him 
without their being seen. He will leave them therefore 
in your hands, and you shall lend him money upon them, 
swearing with great oaths and upon your faith, that ye 
will not open them till a year be past." Rachel and 
Vidas took counsel together and answered, "We well 
knew he got something when he entered the land of the 
Moors; he who has treasures does not sleep without 
suspicion ; we will take the chests, and place them where 
they shall not be seen. But tell us with what will the 
Cid be contented, and what gain will he give us for the 
year?" Martin Antolinez answered like a prudent man, 
"My Cid requires what is reasonable; he will ask but 
little to leave his treasures in safety. Men come to him 
from all parts. He must have six hundred marks." 
And the Jews said, "We will advance him so much." 
"Well then," said Martin Antolinez, "ye see that the 
night is advancing ; the Cid is in haste, give us the marks." 
" This is not the way of business," said they; "we must 
take first, and then give." "Ye say well," replied the 
Burgalese: "come then to the Campeador, and we will 
help you to bring away the chests, so that neither Moors 
nor Christians may see us." So they went to horse and 
rode out together, and they did not cross the bridge, but 
rode through the water that no man might see them, and 
they came to the tent of the Cid. 

Meantime the Cid had taken two chests, which were 
covered with leather of red and gold, and the nails which 
fastened down the leather were well gilt; they were 
ribbed with bands of iron, and each fastened with three 
locks; they were heavy, and he filled them with sand. 

The Cid 151 

And when Rachel and Vidas entered his tent with Martin 
Antolinez, they kissed his hand; and the Cid smiled and 
said to them, "Ye see that I am going out of the land, be- 
cause of the King's displeasure; but I shall leave some- 
thing with ye." And they made answer, "Martin Anto- 
linez has covenanted with us, that we shall give you six 
hundred marks upon these chests, and keep them a full 
year, swearing not to open them till that time be expired, 
else shall we be perjured." " Take the chests," said Martin 
Antolinez; "I will go with you, and bring back the marks, 
for my Cid must move before cock-crow." So they took 
the chests, and though they were both strong men they 
could not raise them from the ground ; and they were full 
glad of the bargain which they had made. And Rachel 
then went to the Cid and kissed his hand and said, "Now, 
Campeador, you are going from Castille among strange 
nations, and your gain will be great, even as your fortune 
is. I kiss your hand, Cid, and have a gift for you, a 
red skin; it is Moorish and honourable." And the Cid 
said, "It pleases me: give it me if ye have brought it; if 
not, reckon it upon the chests." And they departed 
with the chests, and Martin Antolinez and his people 
helped them, and went with them. - And when they 
had placed the chests in safety, they spread a carpet in 
the middle of the hall, and laid a sheet upon it, and they 
threw down upon it three hundred marks of silver. Don 
Martin counted them, and took them without weighing. 
The other three hundred they paid in gold. 

When Martin Antolinez came into the Cid's tent he 
said unto him, " I have sped well, Campeador! you have 
gained six hundred marks. Now then strike your tent and 
be gone. The time draws on, and you may be with your 
Lady Wife at St. Pedro de Cardena, before the cock crows." 

152 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The cocks were crowing amain, and the day began to 
break, when the good Campeador reached St. Pedro's. 
The Abbot Don Sisebuto was saying matins, and Dona 
Ximena and five of her ladies of good lineage were with 
him, praying to God and St. Peter to help my Cid. And 
when he called at the gate and they knew his voice, God, 
what a joyful man was the Abbot Don Sisebuto! Out 
into the courtyard they went with torches and with tapers, 
and the Abbot gave thanks to God that he now beheld 
the face of my Cid. And the Cid told him all that had 
befallen him, and how he was a banished man; and he 
gave him fifty marks for himself, and a hundred for Dona 
Ximena and her children. "Abbot," said he, "I leave 
two little girls behind me, whom I commend to your care. 
Take you care of them and of my wife and of her ladies : 
when this money be gone, if it be not enough, supply 
them abundantly ; for every mark which you spend upon 
them I will give the monastery four." And the Abbot 
promised to do this with a right good will. Then Dona 
Ximena came up weeping bitterly, and she said to her 
husband, " Lo now you are banished from the land by 
mischief-making men, and here am I with your daughters, 
who are little ones and of tender years, and we and you 
must be parted, even in your life-time. For the love of 
St. Mary tell me now what we shall do." And the Cid 
took the children in his arms, and held them to his 
heart and wept, for he dearly loved them. "Please God 
and St. Mary," said he, "I shall yet live to give these 
my daughters in marriage with my own hands, and to do 
you service yet, my honoured wife, whom I have ever 
loved, even as my own soul." 

Now hath my Cid left the kingdom of King Don 
Alfonso, and entered the country of the Moors. And at 

The Cid 153 

day-break they were near the brow of the Sierra, and they 
halted there upon the top of the mountains, and gave 
barley to their horses, and remained there until evening. 
And they srt forward when the evening had closed, that 
none might see them, and continued their way all night, 
and before dawn they came near to Castrejon, which is 
upon the Henares. And Alvar Fafiez said unto the Cid, 
that he would take with him two hundred horsemen, and 
scour the country and lay hands on whatever he could 
find, without fear either of King Alfonso or of the Moors. 
And he couselled him to remain in ambush where he was, 
and surprise the castle of Castrejon : and it seemed good 
unto my Cid. Away went Alvar Fafiez, and the two 
hundred horsemen; and the Cid remained in ambush 
with the rest of his company. And as soon as it was 
morning, the Moors of Castrejon, knowing nothing of 
these who were so near them, opened the castle gates, 
and went out to their work as they were wont to do. And 
the Cid rose from ambush and fell upon them, and took 
all their flocks, and made straight for the gates, pursuing 
them. And there was a cry within the castle that the 
Christians were upon them, and they who were within 
ran to the gates to defend them, but my Cid came up 
sword in hand; eleven Moors did he slay with his own 
hand, and they forsook the gate and fled before him to 
hide themselves within, so that he won the castle presently, 
and took gold and silver, and whatever else he would. 
Alvar Fafiez meantime scoured the country along the 
Henares as far as Alcala, and he returned driving flocks 
and herds before him, with great stores of wearing ap- 
parel, and of other plunder. And when the Cid knew 
that he was nigh at hand he went out to meet him, and 
praised him greatly for what he had done$ and gave 

154 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

thanks to God. And he gave order that all the spoils 
should be heaped together, both what Alvar Fanez had 
brought, and what had been taken in the castle; and 
he said to him, "Brother, of all this which God hath 
given us, take you the fifth, for you well deserve it" ; but 
Minaya would not, saying, "You have need of it for our 
support." And the Cid divided the spoil among the 
knights and foot-soldiers, to each his due portion; to 
every horseman a hundred marks of silver, and half as 
much to the foot-soldiers: and because he could find 
none to whom to sell his fifth, he spake to the Moors 
telling them that they might come safely to purchase the 
spoil, and the prisoners also whom he had taken, both 
men prisoners and women. And they came, and valued 
the spoil and the prisoners, and gave for them three thou- 
sand marks of silver, which they paid within three days: 
they bought also much of the spoil which had been 
divided, making great gain, so that all who were in my 
Cid's company were full rich. And the heart of my Cid 
was joyous, and he sent to King Don Alfonso, telling him 
that he and his companions would yet do him service 
upon the Moors. 

Then my Cid assembled together his good men and 
said unto them, "Friends, we cannot take up our abode 
in this castle, for there is no water in it, and moreover the 
King is at peace with these Moors, and I know that the 
treaty between them hath been written; so that if we 
should abide here he would come against us with all his 
power, and with all the power of the Moors, and we could 
not stand against him. If therefore it seem good unto 
you, let us leave the rest of our piisoners here, that we 
may be free from all encumbrance, like men who are to 
live by war." And it pleased them well that it should 

The Cid 155 

be so. And he said to them, "Ye have all had your 
shares, neither is there anything owing to any one among 
ye. Now then let us be ready to take horse betimes on 
the morrow, for I would not fight against my Lord the 
King." So on the morrow they went to horse and de- 
parted, being rich with the spoils which they had won: 
and they left the castle to the Moors, who remained bless- 
ing them for this bounty which they had received at their 
hands. Then my Cid and his company went up the 
Henares as fast as they could go; great were the spoils 
which they collected as they went along. And on the 
morrow they came against Alcocer. There my Cid 
pitched his tents upon a round hill, which was a great 
hill and a strong; and the river Salon ran near them, 
so that the water could not be cut off. My Cid thought 
to take Alcocer: so he pitched his tents securely, having 
the Sierra on one side, and the river on the other, and he 
made all his people dig a trench, that they might not be 
alarmed, neither by day nor by night. 

When my Cid had thus encamped, he went to look at 
the Alcazar, and see if he could by any means enter it. 
And the Moors offered tribute to him, if he would leave 
them in peace; but this he would not do, and he lay 
before the town. And news went through all the land 
that the Cid was come among them. And my Cid lay 
before Alcocer fifteen weeks; and when he saw that the 
town did not surrender, he ordered his people to break 
up their camp, as if they were flying, and they took their 
way along the Salon, with their banners spread. And 
when the Moors saw this they rejoiced greatly, and they 
praised themselves for what they had done in withstand- 
ing him, and said that the Cid's bread and barley had 
failed him, and he had fled away, and left one of his 

156 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

tents behind him. And they said among themselves, 
"Let us pursue them and spoil them." And they went 
out after him, great and little, leaving the gates open and 
shouting as they went ; and there was not left in the town 
a man who could bear arms. And when my Cid saw 
them coming he gave orders to quicken their speed, as 
if he was in fear, and would not let his people turn till 
the Moors were far from the town. But when he saw 
that there was a good distance between them and the 
gates, he bade his banner turn, and spurred toward them 
crying, "Lay on, knights, by God's mercy the spoil is 
our own." God! what a good joy was theirs that morn- 
ing! My Cid's vassals laid on without mercy; in one 
hour, and in a little space, three hundred Moors were 
slain, and my Cid won the place, and planted his banner 
upon the highest point of the castle. And the Cid said, 
"Blessed be God and all His saints, we have bettered 
our quarters both for horses and men." And he said to 
Alvar Fanez and all his knights, "Hear me, we shall get 
nothing by killing these Moors — let us take them and 
they shall show us their treasures which they have hidden 
in their houses, and we will dwell here and they shall 
serve us." In this manner did my Cid win Alcocer, and 
take up his abode therein. 

In three weeks time after this returned Alvar Fanez 
from Castille. And my Cid rode up to him, and em- 
braced him without speaking, and kissed his mouth and 
the eyes in his head. God, how joyful was that whole 
host because Alvar Fanez was returned! for he brought 
them greetings from their kinswomen and their brethren 
and the fair comrades whom they had left behind. God, 
how joyful was my Cid with the fleecy beard, that Minaya 
had purchased the thousand masses, and had brought 

The Cid 


him the biddings of his wife and daughters ! God, what 
a joyful man was he! 

Now it came to pass that the days of King Almudafar 
were fulfilled: and he left his two sons Zulema and 
Abenalfange, and Zulema had the kingdom of Zaragoza, 
and Abenalfange the kingdom of Denia. And Zulema 
put his kingdom under my Cid's protection, and bade all 
his people obey him even as they would himself. Now 
there began to be great enmity between the two brethren, 
and they made war upon each other. And the Count 
Don Ramon Berenguer of Barcelona helped Abenal- 
fange, and was enemy to the Cid because he defended 
Zulema. And my Cid chose out two hundred horsemen 
and went out by night, and fell upon the lands of Alcafiiz 
and brought away great booty. Great was the talk 
among the Moors; how my Cid was over-running the 

When Don Ramon Berenguer the Count of Barcelona 
heard this, it troubled him to the heart, and he held it 
for a great dishonour, because that part of the land of the 
Moors was in his keeping. And he spake boastfully say- 
ing, "Great wrong doth that Cid of Bivar offer unto me; 
he ravages the lands which are in my keeping, and I have 
never renounced his friendship; but since he goes on in 
this way I must take vengeance." So he and King 
Abenalfange gathered together a great power both of 
Moors and Christians, and went in pursuit of the Cid, 
and after three days and two nights they came up with 
him in the pine-forest of Tebar. And when the Cid 
heard this he sent to Don Ramon saying, that the booty 
which he had won was none of his, and bidding him let 
him go on his way in peace: but the Count made answer, 
that my Cid should now learn whom he had dis- 

158 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

honoured. Then my Cid sent the booty forward, and 
bade his knights make ready. "They are coming upon 
us," said he, "with a great power both of Moors and 
Christians, to take from us the spoils which we have so 
hardly won, and without doing battle we cannot be quit 
of them; for if we should proceed they would follow 
till they overtook us : therefore let the battle be here, and 
I trust in God that we shall win more honour, and some- 
thing to boot. They come down the hill, drest in their 
hose, with their gay saddles, and their girths wet. Be- 
fore they get upon the plain ground let us give them the 
points of our lances; and Ramon Berenguer will then 
see whom he has overtaken to-day in the pine-forest of 
Tebar, thinking to despoil him of booty won from the 
enemies of God and of the faith." 

While my Cid was speaking, his knights had taken 
their arms, and were ready on horseback for the charge. 
Presently they saw the Frenchmen coming down the hill, 
and when they had not yet set foot upon the plain ground, 
my Cid bade his people charge, which they did with a 
right good will, thrusting their spears so stiffly, that by 
God's good pleasure not a man whom they encountered but 
lost his seat. The Count's people stood firm round their 
Lord; but my Cid was in search of him, and when he saw 
where he was, he made up to him, clearing the way as he 
went, and gave him such a stroke with his lance that he 
felled him. When the Frenchmen saw their Lord in this 
plight they fled away and left him ; and the pursuit lasted 
three leagues, and would have been continued farther if 
the conquerors had not had tired horses. Thus was 
Count Ramon Berenguer made prisoner, and my Cid 
won from him that day the good sword Colada, which 
was worth more than a thousand marks of silver. That 

The Cid 159 

night did my Cid and his men make merry, rejoicing 
over their gains. And the Count was taken to my Cid's 
tent, and a good supper was set before him; nevertheless 
he would not eat, though my Cid besought him so to do. 
And on the morrow my Cid ordered a feast to be made, 
that he might do pleasure to the Count, but the Count 
said that for all Spain he would not eat one mouthful, 
but would rather die, since he had been beaten in battle 
by such a set of ragged fellows. And Ruydiez said to 
him, "Eat and drink, Count, for this is the chance of war; 
if you do as I say you shall be free; and if not you will 
never return again into your own lands." And Don 
Ramond answered, "Eat you, Don Rodrigo, for your 
fortune is fair and you deserve it ; take you your pleasure, 
but leave me to die." And in this mood he continued 
for three days, refusing all food. But then my Cid said 
to him, "Take food, Count, and be sure that I will set 
you free, you and any two of your knights, and give you 
wherewith to return into your own country." And when 
Don Ramond heard this, he took comfort and said, "If 
you will indeed do this thing I shall marvel at you as 
long as I live." "Eat then," said Ruydiez, "and I will 
do it: but mark you, of the spoil which we have taken 
from you I will give you nothing; for to that you have 
no claim neither by right nor custom, and besides we 
want it for ourselves, being banished men, who must 
live by taking from you and from others as long as it 
shall please God." Then was the Coimt full joyful, 
being well pleased that what should be given him was not 
of the spoils which he had lost; and he called for water 
and washed his hands, and chose two of his kinsmen to be 
set free with him. And my Cid sate at the table with 
them, and said, "If you do not eat well, Count, you aod 

160 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

I shall not part yet." Never since he was Count did he 
eat with better will than that day! And when they had 
done he said, "Now, Cid, if it be your pleasure let us 
depart." And my Cid clothed him and his kinsmen 
well with goodly skins and mantles, and gave them each 
a goodly palfrey, with rich caparisons, and he rode out 
with them on their way. And when he took leave of the 
Count he said to him, "Now go freely, and I thank you 
for what you have left behind ; if you wish to play for it 
again let me know, and you shall either have something 
back in its stead, or leave what you bring to be added to 
it." The Count answered, "Cid, you jest safely now, 
for I have paid you and all your company for this 
twelve-months, and shall not be coming to see you again 
so soon." 

Then Count Ramond pricked on more than apace, 
and many times looked behind him, fearing that my Cid 
would repent what he had done, and send to take him 
back to prison, which the perfect one would not have done 
for the whole world, for never did he do disloyal thing. 

At last after long and pitiful fighting it was bruited 
abroad throughout all lands, how the Cid Ruydiez had 
won the noble city of Valencia. 

And now the Cid bethought him of Dona Ximena his 
wife, and of his daughters Dona Elvira and Dona Sol, 
whom he had left in the monastery of St. Pedro de Car- 
defia and he called for Alvar Fanez and Martin Antolinez 
of Burgos, and spake with them, and besought them 
that they would go to Castille, to King Don Alfonso and 
take him a present from the riches which God had given 
them; and the present should be a hundred horses, saddled 
and bridled; and that they would kiss the King's hand 
for him, and beseech him to send to him his wife Dona 

The Cid 1 6 1 

Ximena, and his daughters; and that they would tell the 
King all the mercy which God had shown him, and how 
he was at his service with Valencia and with all that he 
had. Moreover he bade them take a thousand marks of 
silver to the monastery of St. Pedro de Cardefia, and 
give them to the Abbot, and thirty marks of gold for his 
wife and daughters, that they might prepare themselves 
and come in honourable guise. And he ordered three 
hundred marks of gold to be given them, and three hun- 
dred marks of silver, to redeem the chests full of sand 
which he had pledged in Burgos to the Jews; and he 
bade them ask Rachel and Vidas to forgive him the deceit 
of the sand, for he had done it because of his great need. 
Then Alvar Fafiez and Martin Antolinez dispeeded 
themselves of the King, and took their way toward 
Burgos. When they reached Burgos they sent for Rachel 
and for Vidas, and demanded from them the chests, and 
paid unto them the three hundred marks of gold and the 
three hundred of silver as the Cid had commanded, and 
they besought them to forgive the Cid the deceit of the 
chests, for it was done because of his great necessity. 
And they said they heartily forgave him, and held them- 
selves well paid ; and they prayed God to grant him long 
life and good health, and to give him power to advance 
Christendom, and put down Pagandom. And when 
it was known through the city of Burgos the goodness 
and the gentleness which the Cid had shown to these 
merchants in redeeming from them the chests full of 
sand and earth and stones, the people held it for a 
great wonder, and there was not a place in all Burgos 
where they did not talk of the gentleness and loyalty of 
the Cid; and they besought blessings upon him, and 
prayed that he and his people might be advanced in 

1 62 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

honour. When they had done this, they went to the 
monastery of St. Pedro de Cardefia, and the porter of the 
King went with them, and gave order everywhere that 
everything which they wanted should be given them. If 
they were well received, and if there was great joy in St. 
Pedro de Cardefia over them, it is not a thing to ask, for 
Dona Ximena and her daughters were like people beside 
themselves with the great joy which they had, and 
they came running out on foot to meet them, weeping 

After a long life-time of adventure the Cid sickened 
of a malady. And the day before his weakness waxed 
great, he ordered the gates of Valencia to be shut, and 
went to the Church of St. Peter; and there the Bishop 
Don Hieronymo being present, and all the clergy who 
were in Valencia, and the knights and honourable men 
and honourable dames, as many as the church could 
hold, the Cid Ruydiez stood up, and made a full noble 
preaching, showing that no man, however honourable or 
fortunate he may be in this world, can escape death, to 
which, said he, "I am now full near; and since ye know 
that this body of mine hath never yet been conquered, 
nor put to shame, I beseech ye let not this befall it at the 
end, for the good fortune of man is only accomplished 
at his end." Then he took leave of the people, weeping 
plenteously, and returned to the Alcazar, and betook him- 
self to his bed, and never rose from it again; and every 
day he waxed weaker and weaker. He called for the 
caskets of gold in which was the balsam and the myrrh 
which the Soldan of Persia had sent him; and when these 
were put before him he bade them bring him the golden 
cup, of which he was wont to drink; and he took of that 
balsam and of that myrrh as much as a little spoonful, 

The Cid 163 

and mingled it in the cup with rose-water, and drank of 
it; and for the seven days which he lived he neither ate 
nor drank aught else than a little of that myrrh and bal- 
sam mingled with water. And every day after he did this, 
his body and his countenance appeared fairer and fresher 
than before, and his voice clearer, though he waxed 
weaker and weaker daily, so that he could not move in 
his bed. 

On the twenty-ninth day, being the day before he de- 
parted, he called for Dona Ximena, and for the Bishop 
Don Hieronymo, and Don Alvar Fafiez Minaya, and Pero 
Bermudez, and his trusty Gil Diaz; and when they were 
all five before him, he began to direct them what they 
should do after his death; and he said to them, "Ye know 
that King Bucar will presently be here to besiege this 
city, with seven and thirty Kings whom he bringeth with 
him, and with a mighty power of Moors. Now therefore 
the first thing which ye do after I have departed, wash 
my body with rose-water many times and well, and when 
it has been well washed and made clean, ye shall dry it 
well, and anoint it with this myrrh and balsam, from 
these golden caskets, from head to foot, so that every 
part shall be anointed. And you, my Dona Ximena, and 
your women, see that ye utter no cries, neither make any 
lamentation for me, that the Moors may not know of 
my death. And when the day shall come in which King 
Bucar arrives, order all the people of Valencia to go 
upon the walls, and sound your trumpets and tambours 
and make the greatest rejoicings that ye can. For certes 
ye cannot keep the city, neither abide therein after they 
know of my death. And see that sumpter beasts be 
laden with all that there is in Valencia, so that nothing 
which can profit may be left. And this I leave espe- 

164 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

cially to your charge, Gil Diaz. Then saddle ye my 
horse Bavieca, and arm him well; and apparel my body 
full seemlily, and place me upon the horse, and fasten 
and tie me thereon so that it cannot fall: and fasten my 
sword Tizona in my hand. And let the Bishop Don 
Hieronymo go on one side of me, and my trusty Gil Diaz 
on the other, and he shall lead my horse. You, Pero 
Bermudez, shall bear my banner, as you were wont to 
bear it; and you, Alvar Fanez, my cousin, gather your 
company together, and put the host in order as you are 
wont to do. And go ye forth and fight with King Bucar : 
for be ye certain and doubt not that ye shall win this 
battle; God hath granted me this. And when ye have 
won the fight, and the Moors are discomfited, ye may 
spoil the field at pleasure. Ye will find great riches." 

And this noble Baron yielded up his soul, which was 
pure and without spot, to God, on that Sunday which is 
called Quinquagesima, being the twenty and ninth of 
May, in the year of our Lord one thousand and ninety 
and nine, and in the seventy and third year of his life. 
After he had thus made his end they washed his body and 
embalmed it as he had commanded. And then all the 
honourable men, and all the clergy who were in Valencia, 
assembled and carried it to the Church of St. Mary of 
the Virtues, which is near the Alcazar, and there kept 
their vigil, and said prayer and performed masses, as 
was meet for so honourable a man. 

Three days after the Cid had departed King Bucar came 
into the port of Valencia, and landed with all his power. 
And there came with him thirty and six Kings, and one 
Moorish Queen, and she brought with her two hundred 
horsewomen, all negresses like herself, all having their 
hair shorn save a tuft on the top, and they were all armed 

The Cid 165 

in coats of mail and with Turkish bows. King Bucar 
ordered his tents to be pitched round about Valencia. 
And his people thought that the Cid dared not come 
out against them, and they were the more encouraged, 
and began to think of making engines wherewith to 
combat the city. 

All this while the company of the Cid were preparing 
all things to go into Castille, as he had commanded before 
bis death; and his trusty Gil Diaz did nothing else but 
labour at this. And the body of the Cid was prepared 
and the virtue of the balsam and myrrh was such that 
the flesh remained firm and fair, having its natural colour 
and his countenance as it was wont to be, and the eyes 
open, and his long beard in order, so that there was not 
a man who would have thought him dead if he had seen 
him. And on the second day after he had departed, 
Gil Diaz placed the body upon a right noble saddle. 
And he took two boards and fitted them to the body, one 
to the breast and the other to the shoulders; these were 
so hollowed out and fitted that they met at the sides 
and under the arms, and these boards were fastened into 
the saddle, so that the body could not move. All this 
was done by the morning of the twelfth day ; and all that 
day the people of the Cid were busied in making ready 
their arms, and in loading beasts with all that they had. 
When it was midnight they took the body of the Cid 
fastened to the saddle as it was, and placed it upon his 
horse Bavieca, and fastened the saddle well: and the 
body sate so upright and well that it seemed as if he was 
alive. And it had on painted hose of black and white, 
so cunningly painted that no man who saw them would 
have thought but that they were grieves, unless he had laid 
his hand upon them ; and they put on it a surcoat of green 

1 66 Heroes "Every Chili Should Know 

sendal, having his arms blazoned thereon, and a helmet 
of parchment, which was cunningly painted that every 
one might have believed it to be iron ; and his shield was 
hung around his neck, and they placed the sword Tizona 
in his hand, and they raised his arm, and fastened it 
up so subtly that it was a marvel to see how upright he 
held the sword. And the Bishop Don Hieronymo went 
on one side of him, and the trusty Gil Diaz on the 
other, and he led the horse Bavieca, as the Cid had com- 
manded him. And when all this had been made ready, 
they went out from Valencia at midnight, through the 
gate of Roseros, which is towards Castille. Pero Ber- 
mudez went first with the banner of the Cid, and with him 
five hundred knights who guarded it, all well appointed. 
Then came the body of the Cid with an hundred knights, 
all chosen men, and behind them Dona Ximena with all 
her company, and six hundred knights in the rear. All 
these went out so silently, and with such a measured 
pace, that it seemed as if there were only a score. And by 
the time that they had all gone out it was broad day. 

Now, while the Bishop Don Hieronymo and Gil Diaz 
led away the body of the Cid, and Dona Ximena, and 
the baggage, Alvar Fafiez Minaya fell upon the Moors. 
First he attacked the tents of that Moorish Queen the 
Negress, who lay nearest to the city; and this onset was 
so sudden, that they killed full a hundred and fifty Moors 
before they had time to take arms or go to horse. But 
that Moorish Negress, so skilful in drawing the Turkish 
bow, that they called her the Star of the Archers, was the 
first that got on horseback, and with some fifty that were 
with her, did some hurt to the company of the Cid; but 
in fine they slew her, and her people fled to the camp. 
And so great was the uproar and confusion, that few 

The Cid 167 

there were who took arms, but instead thereof they turned 
their backs and fled toward the sea. And when King 
Bucar and his Kings saw this they were astonished. 
And it seemed 10 tnem that there came against them 
on the part of the Christians full seventy thousand 
knights, all as white as snow : and before them a knight 
of great stature upon a white horse. And King Bucar 
and the other Kings were so greatly dismayed that they 
never checked the reins till they had ridden into the 
sea; and the company of the Cid rode after them, 
smiting and slaying and giving them no respite, 
And when the Moors came to the sea, so great was the 
press among them to get to the ships, that more than ten 
thousand died in the water. And King Bucar and they 
who escaped with him hoisted sails and went their way, 
and never more turned their heads. 

Then Alvar Fafiez and his people went after the 
Bishop Don Hieronymo and Gil Diaz, who, with the 
body of the Cid, and Dona Ximena, and the baggage, 
had gone on till they were clear of the host, and then 
waited for those who were gone against the Moors. And 
so great was the spoil, gold, and silver, and other precious 
things that the poorest man among the Christians, horse- 
man or on foot, became rich with what he won that day. 
And when they were all met together, they took the road 
toward Castille; and they halted that night in a village 
which is called Siete Aguas, that is to say, the Seven 
Waters, which is nine leagues from Valencia. 

When the company of the Cid departed from the Siete 
Aguas, they held their way by short journeys. And the 
Cid went alway upon his horse Bavieca, as they had 
brought him out from Valencia, save only that he wore 
ao arms, but was clad in right noble garments. Great 

1 68 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

was the concourse of people to see the Cid Ruydiez 
coming in that guise. They came from all the country 
round about, and when they saw him their wonder was 
the greater, and hardly could they be persuaded that he 
was dead. 

At this time King Don Alfonso abode in Toledo, and when 
the letters came unto him saying how the Cid Campeador 
was departed, and after what manner he had discomfited 
King Bucar, and how they brought him in this goodly 
manner upon his horse Bavieca, he set out from Toledo, 
taking long journeys till he came to San Pedro de Cardefia 
to do honour to the Cid at his funeral. And when the 
King Don Alfonso saw so great a company and in such 
goodly array, and the Cid Ruydiez so nobly clad and 
upon his horse Bavieca, he was greatly astonished. And 
the King beheld his countenance, and seeing it so fresh 
and comely, and his eyes so bright and fair, and so even 
and open that he seemed alive, he marvelled greatly. 

On the third day after the coming of King Don Al- 
fonso, they would have interred the body of the Cid, but 
when the King heard what Dona Ximena had said, that 
while it was so fair and comely it should not be laid in 
a coffin, he held that what she said was good. And he 
sent for the ivory chair which had been carried to the 
Cortes of Toledo, and gave order that it should be placed 
on the right of the altar of St. Peter; and he laid a cloth 
of gold upon it, and he ordered a graven tabernacle to 
be made over the chair, richly wrought with azure and 
gold. And he himself, and the King of Navarre and the 
Infante of Aragon, and the Bishop Don Hieronymo, to do 
honour to the Cid, helped to take his body from between 
the two boards, in which it had been fastened at Valencia. 
And when they had taken it out, the body was so firm 

The Cid 169 

that it bent not on either side, and the flesh so firm and 
comely, that it seemed as if he were yet alive. And the 
King thought that what they purported to do and had 
thus begun, might full well be effected. And they clad 
the body in cloth of purple, which the Soldan of Persia 
had sent him, and put him on hose of the same, and set 
him in his ivory chair; and in his left hand they placed 
his sword Tizona in its scabbard, and the strings of his 
mantle in his right. And in this fashion the body of the 
Cid remained there ten years and more, till it was taken 
thence and buried. 

Gil Diaz took great delight in tending the horse Bavieca, 
so that there were few days in which he did not lead him 
to water, and bring him back with his own hand. And 
from the day in which the dead body of the Cid was taken 
off his back, never man was suffered to bestride that 
horse, but he was alway led when they took him to water, 
and when they brought him back. And this good horse 
lived two years and a half after the death of his master 
the Cid, and then he died also, having lived full forty 
years. And Gil Diaz buried him before the gate of the 
monastery, in the public place, on the right hand; and 
he planted two elms upon the grave, the one at his head 
and the other at his feet, and these elms grew and became 
great trees, and are yet to be seen before the gate of the 



BECAUSE of the hardness towards the English 
people of William the Conqueror, and of William's 
successors to several generations, many an Englishman 
exiled himself from town and passed his life in the green- 
wood. These men were called "outlaws." First they 
went forth out of love for the ancient liberties of England. 
Then in their living in the forest, they put themselves 
without the law by their ways of gaining their livelihood. 
Of such men none were more renowned than Robin 
Hood and his company. 

We do not know anything about Robin Hood, who he 
was, or where he lived, or what evil deed he had done. 
Any man might kill him and never pay penalty for it. 
But, outlaw or not, the poor people loved him and looked 
on him as their friend, and many a stout fellow came 
to join him, and led a merry life in the greenwood, with 
moss and fern for bed, and for meat the King's deer, 
which it was death to slay. Tillers of the land, yeomen, 
and some say knights, went on their ways freely, for of 
them Robin took no toll; but lordly churchmen with 
money-bags well filled, or proud bishops with their 
richly dressed followers, trembled as they drew near to 
Sherwood Forest — who was to know whether behind 
every tree there did not lurk Robin Hood or one of his 

One day Robin was walking alone in the wood, and 

Robin Hood 171 

reached a river spanned by a very narrow bridge, over 
which one man only could pass. In the midst stood a 
stranger, and Robin bade him go back and let him go over. 
"I am no man of yours," was all the answer Robin got, 
and in anger he drew his bow and fitted an arrow to it. 
"Would you shoot a man who has no arms but a staff?" 
asked the stranger in scorn; and with shame Robin laid 
down his bow, and unbuckled an oaken stick at his side. 
"We will fight till one of us falls into the water, " he said; 
and fight they did, till the stranger planted a blow so well 
that Robin rolled over into the river. "You are a brave 
soul, " said he, when he had waded to land, and he blew 
a blast with his horn which brought fifty good fellows, 
clad in green, to the little bridge. "Have you fallen into 
the river that your clothes are wet ? " asked one ; and Robin 
made answer, "No, but this stranger, fighting on the 
bridge, got the better of me, and tumbled me into the 
stream. " 

At this the foresters seized the stranger, and would 
have ducked him had not their leader bade them stop, 
and begged the stranger to stay with them and make 
one of themselves. "Here is my hand," replied the stran- 
ger, "and my heart with it. My name, if you would know 
it, is John Little. " 

"That must be altered," cried Will Scarlett; "we will 
call a feast, and henceforth, because he is full seven feet 
tall and round the waist at least an ell, he shall be called 
Little John." 

And thus it was done; but at the feast Little John, who 
always liked to know exactly what work he had to do, put 
some questions to Robin Hood. "Before I join hands 
with you, tell me first what sort of life is this you lead ? 
How am I to know whose goods I shall take, and whose 

172 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

I shall leave? Whom I shall beat, and whom I shall 
refrain from beating?" 

And Robin answered: "Look that you harm not 
any tiller of the ground, nor any yeoman of the greenwood 
— no knight, no squire, unless you have heard him ill 
spoken of. But if bishops or archbishops come your 
way, see that you spoil them, and mark that you 
always hold in your mind the High Sheriff of Notting- 
ham. " 

This being settled, Robin Hood declared Little John 
to be second in command to himself among the brother- 
hood of the forest, and the new outlaw never forgot to 
"hold in his mind" the High Sheriff of Nottingham, 
who was the bitterest enemy the foresters had. 


Upon a time it chanced so, 

Bold Robin in forest did spy 
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare, 

With his flesh to the market did hie. 

"Good morrow, good fellow," said jolly Robin, 
"What food hast thou? tell unto me; 

Thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell. 
For I like well thy company." 

The butcher he answer'd jolly Robin, 

"No matter where I dwell; 
For a butcher I am, and to Nottingham 

I am going, my flesh to sell. " 

Robin Hood 173 

"What's the price of thy flesh?" said jolly Robin, 

"Come, tell it soon unto me; 
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear, 

For a butcher fain would I be. " 

"The price of my flesh," the butcher replied, 

"I soon will tell unto thee; 
With my bonny mare, and they are not dear, 

Four marks thou must give unto me. " 

"Four marks I will give thee," said jolly Robin ; 

"Four marks shall be thy fee; 
The money come count, and let me mount, 

For a butcher I fain would be." 

Now Robin he is to Nottingham gone, 

His butcher's trade to begin; 
With good intent to the Sheriff he went, 

And there he took up his inn. 

When other butchers did open their meat, 

Bold Robin got gold and fee, 
For he sold more meat for one penny 

Than others did sell for three. 

Which made the butchers of Nottingham 

To study as they did stand, 
Saying, "Surely he is some prodigal 

That has sold his father's land." 

"This is a mad blade," the butchers still said; 

Said the Sheriff, "He is some prodigal, 
That some land has sold for silver and gold, 

And now he doth mean to spend all. 

174 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"Hast thou any horn-beasts, " the Sheriff asked, 

"Good fellow, to sell to me?" 
"Yes, that I have, good Master Sheriff, 

I have hundreds, two or three. 

"And a hundred acres of good free land, 

If you please it to see: 
And I'll make you as good assurance of it, 

As ever my father made me. " 

The Sheriff he saddled his good palfrey, 
And with three hundred pounds of gold, 

Away he went with bold Robin Hood, 
His horned beasts to behold. 

Away then the Sheriff and Robin did ride, 

To the forest of merry Sherwood; 
Then the Sheriff did say, "God keep us this day 

From a man they call Robin Hood." 

But when a little farther they came, 

Bold Robin he chanced to spy 
A hundred head of good red deer, 

Come tripping the Sheriff full nigh. 

"How like you my horn-beasts, good Master Sheriff? 

They be fat and fair to see"; 
"I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone, 

For I like not thy company. " 

Then Robin set his horn to his mouth, 

And blew but blasts three; 
Then quickly anon there came Little John, 

And all his company. 

Robin Hood 175 

: ' What is your will?" then said Little John, 
"Good master, come tell unto me"; 

"I have brought hither the Sheriff of Nottingham 
This day to dine with thee," 

Then Robin took his cloak from his back 

And laid it upon the ground ; 
And out of the Sheriff's portmanteau 

He took three hundred pound. 

He then led the Sheriff through the wood, 

And set him on his dapple grey; 
"Commend Robin Hood to your wife at home," 

He said, and went laughing away. 

Now Robin Hood had no liking for a company of 
idle men about him, and sent off Little John and Will 
Scarlett to the great road known as Watling Street, with 
orders to hide among the trees and wait till some adven- 
ture might come to them; and if they took captive earl 
or baron, abbot or knight, he was to be brought unharmed 
back to Robin Hood. 

But all along Watling Street the road was bare; white 
and hard it lay in the sun, without the tiniest cloud of 
dust to show that a rich company might be coming: east 
and west the land lay still. 

At length, just where a side path turned into the broad 
highway, there rode a knight, and a sorrier man than he 
never sat a horse on summer day. One foot only was 
in the stirrup, the other hung carelessly by his side; his 
head was bowed, the reins dropped loose, and his horse 
went on as he would. At so sad a sight the hearts of 
the outlaws were filled with pity, and Little John fell on 

176 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

his knees and bade the knight welcome in the name of 
his master. 

"Who is your master?" asked the knight. 

"Robin Hood," answered Little John. 

"I have heard much good of him, " replied the knight, 
"and will go with you gladly. " 

Then they all set off together, tears running down the 
knight's cheeks as he rode, but he said nothing, neither 
was anything said to him. And in this wise they came 
to Robin Hood. 

"Welcome, Sir Knight," cried he, "and thrice wel- 
come, for I waited to break my fast till you or some other 
had come to me. " 

"God save you, good Robin," answered the knight, 
and after they had washed themselves in the stream they 
sat down to dine off bread, with flesh of the King's deer, 
and swans and pheasants. "Such a dinner have I not 
had for three weeks and more," said the knight. "And 
if I ever come again this way, good Robin, I will give 
you as fine a dinner as you have given me. " 

"I thank you," replied Robin, "my dinner is always 
welcome; still, I am none so greedy but I can wait for it. 
But before you go, pay me, I pray you, for the food which 
you have had. It was never the custom for a yeoman 
to pay for a knight." 

"My bag is empty," said the knight, "save for ten 
shillings only. " 

"Go, Little John, and look in his wallet," said Robin, 
"and, Sir Knight, if in truth you have no more, not one 
penny will I take ; nay, I will give you all that you shall 
need. " 

So Little John spread out the knight's mantle, and opened 
the bag, and therein lay ten shillings and naught besides. 

Robin Hood 177 

"What tidings, Little John?" cried his master. 

"Sir, the knight speaks truly," said Little John. 

"Then tell me, Sir Knight, whether it is your own ill 
doings which have brought you to this sorry pass." 

"For an hundred years my fathers have dwelt in the 
forest," answered the knight, "and four hundred pounds 
might they spend yearly. But within two years misfor- 
tune has befallen me, and my wife and children also." 

"How did this evil come to pass?" asked Robin. 

"Through my own folly," answered the knight, "and 
because of my great love I bore my son, who would never 
be guided of my counsel, and slew, ere he was twenty 
years old, a knight of Lancaster and his squire. For 
their deaths I had to pay a large sum, which I could not 
raise without giving my lands in pledge to the rich Abbot 
of St. Mary's. If I cannot bring him the money by a 
certain day they will be lost to me for ever. " 

"What is the sum?" asked Robin. "Tell me truly." 

"It is four hundred pounds," said the knight. 

"And what will you do if you lose your lands?" asked 
Robin again. 

"Hide myself over the sea," said the knight, "and bid 
farewell to my friends and country. There is no better 
way open to me. " 

At this tears fell from his eyes, and he turned him to 
depart. "Good day, my friend," he said to Robin, "I 

cannot pay you what I should " But Robin held 

him fast. "Where are your friends?" asked he. 

"Sir, they have all forsaken me since I became poor, 
and they turn away their heads if we meet upon the road, 
though when I was rich they were ever in my castle. " 

When Little John and Will Scarlett and the rest heard 
this they wept for very shame and fury. 

178 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"Little John," said Robin, "go to my treasure chest, 
and bring me thence four hundred pounds. And be sure 
you count it truly." 

So Little John went, and Will Scarlett, and they brought 
back the money. 

"Sir," said Little John, when Robin had counted it 
and found it no more and no less, "look at his clothes, 
how thin they are! You have stores of garments, green 
and scarlet, in your coffers — no merchant in England 
can boast the like. I will measure some out with my 
bow. " And thus he did. 

"Master, " spoke Little John again, "there is still some- 
thing else. You must give him a horse, that he may go 
as beseems his quality to the Abbey. " 

"Take the grey horse," said Robin, "and put a new 
saddle on it, and take likewise a good palfrey and a pair 
of boots, with gilt spurs on them. And as it were a 
shame for a knight to ride by himself on this errand, I 
will lend you Little John as squire — perchance he may 
stand you in yeoman's stead. " 

"When shall we meet again?" asked the knight. 

"This day twelve months," said Robin, "under the 
greenwood tree." 

Then the knight rode on his way, with Little John 
behind him, and as he went he thought of Robin Hood 
and his men, and blessed them for the goodness they had 
shown towards him. 

"To-morrow," he said to Little John, "I must be at 
the Abbey of St. Mary, which is in the city of York, for 
if I am but so much as a day late my lands are lost for 
ever, and though I were to bring the money I should not 
be suffered to redeem them. " 

Now the Abbot had been counting the days as well as 

Robin Hood 179 

the knight, and the next morning he said to his monks: 
"This day year there came a knight and borrowed of me 
four hundred pounds, giving his lands in surety. And if 
he come not to pay his debt ere midnight tolls they will 
be ours forever." 

" It is full early yet," answered the Prior, " he may 
still be coming." 

"He is far beyond the sea," said the Abbot, "and 
suffers from hunger and cold. How is he to get here ?" 

"It were a shame," said the Prior, "for you to take his 
lands. And you do him much wrong if you drive such a 
hard bargain." 

"He is dead or hanged," spake a fat-headed monk who 
was the cellarer, "and we shall have his four hundred 
pounds to spend on our gardens and our wines," and he 
went with the Abbot to attend the court of justice wherein 
the knight's lands would he declared forfeited by the 
High Justiciar. 

"If he come not this day," cried the Abbot, rubbing 
his hands, "if he come not this day, they will be 

"He will not come yet," said the Justiciar, but he knew 
not that the knight was already at the outer gate, and 
Little John with him. 

"Welcome, Sir Knight," said the porter. "The 
horse that you ride is the noblest that ever I saw. Let 
me lead them both to the stable, that they may have 
food and rest." 

"They shall not pass these gates," answered the 
knight, sternly, and he entered the hall alone, where the 
monks were sitting at meat, and knelt down and bowed 
to them. 

"I have come back, my lord," he said to the Abbot, 

180 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

who had just returned from the court. " I have come 
back this day as I promised." 

''Have you brought my money? What do you here 
without it ?" cried the Abbot in angry tones. 

"I have come to pray you for a longer day," answered 
the knight, meekly. 

"The day was fixed and cannot be gainsaid," replied 
the Justiciar; "I am with the Abbot." 

"Good Sir Abbot, be my friend," prayed the knight 
again, "and give me one chance more to get the money 
and free my lands. I will serve you day and night till I 
have four hundred pounds to redeem them." 

But the Abbot only swore a great oath, and vowed 
that the money must be paid that day or the lands be 

The knight stood up straight and tall: "It is well," 
said he, "to prove one's friends against the hour of need," 
and he looked the Abbot full in the face, and the Abbot 
felt uneasy, he did not know why, and hated the knight 
more than ever. "Out of my hall, false knight!" cried 
he, pretending to a courage which he did not feel. But 
the knight stayed where he was, and answered him, 
"You lie, Abbot. Never was I false, and that I have 
shown in jousts and in tourneys." 

"Give him two hundred pounds more," said the 
Justiciar to the Abbot, "and keep the lands yourself." 

"No, by Heaven!" answered the knight, "not if you 
offered me a thousand pounds would I do it! Neither 
justiciar, abbot, nor monk shall be heir of mine.' 1 
Then he strode up to a table and emptied out four hun- 
dred pounds. "Take your gold, Sir Abbot, which you 
lent to me a year agone. Had you but received me 
civilly, I would have paid you something more. 

Robin Hood 181 

" Sir Abbot, and ye men of law, 

Now have I kept my day! 
Now shall I have my land again, 

For aught that you may say." 

So he passed out of the hall singing merrily, leaving the 
Abbot staring silently after him, and rode back to his 
house in Verisdale, where his wife met him at the gate. 

" Welcome, my lord," said his lady, 

" Sir, lost is all your good." 
" Be merry, dame," said the knight, 
" And pray for Robin Hood. 

But for his kindness, we would have been beggars." 

After this the knight dwelt at home, looking after his 
lands and saving his money carefully till the four hundred 
pounds lay ready for Robin Hood. Then he bought a 
hundred bows and a hundred arrows, and every arrow 
was an ell long, and had a head of silver and peacock's 
feathers. And clothing himself in white and red, and 
with a hundred men in his train, he set off to Sherwood 

On the way he passed an open space near a bridge 
where there was a wrestling, and the knight stopped and 
looked, for he himself had taken many a prize in that 
sport. Here the prizes were such as to fill any man with 
envy; a fine horse, saddled and bridled, a great white 
bull, a pair of gloves, and a ring of bright red gold. There 
was not a yeoman present who did not hope to win one 
of them. But when the wrestling was over, the yeoman 
who had beaten them all was a man who kept apart from 
his fellows, and was said to think much of himself. 
Therefore the men grudged him his skill, and set upon him 
with blows, and would have killed him, had not the 

1 8 2 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

knight, for love of Robin Hood, taken pity on him, 
while his followers fought with the crowd, and would not 
suffer them to touch the prizes a better man had won. 

When the wrestling was finished the knight rode on, 
and there under the greenwood tree, in the place ap- 
pointed, he found Robin Hood and his merry men waiting 
for him, according to the tryst that they had fixed last 

" God save thee, Robin Hood, 

And all this company." 
" Welcome be thou, gentle knight, 

And right welcome to me." 

"Hast thou thy land again? " said Robin, 

" Truth then thou tell me." 
" Yea, for God," said the knight, 

"And that thank I God and thee." 

"Have here four hundred pounds," said the knight, 

" The which you lent to me ; 
And here are also twenty marks 

For your courtesie." 

But Robin would not take the money. Then he noticed the 
bows and arrows which the knight had brought, and 
asked what they were. ' ' A poor present to you , ' ' answered 
the knight, and Robin, who would not be outdone, sent 
Little John once more to his treasury, and bade him 
bring forth four hundred pounds, which was given to the 
knight. After that they parted, in much love, and Robin 
prayed the knight if he were in any strait "to let him know 
at the greenwood tree, and while there was any gold 
there he should have it." 

Now the King had no mind that Robin Hood should 
do as he willed, and called his knights to follow him to 
Nottingham, where they would lay plans how best to 

Robin Hood 183 

fake captive the felon. Here they heard sad tales of 
Robin's misdoings, and how of the many herds of wild 
deer that had been wont to roam the forest in some places 
scarce one remained. This was the work of Robin Hood 
and his merry men, on whom the king swore vengeance 
with a great oath. 

"I would I had this Robin Hood in my hands," cried 
he, "and an end should soon be put to his doings." So 
spake the King; but an old knight, full of days and 
wisdom, answered him and warned him that the task of 
taking Robin Hood would be a sore one, and best let 
alone. The King, who had seen the vanity of his hot 
words the moment that he had uttered them, listened to 
the old man, and resolved to bide his time, if perchance 
some day Robin should fail into his power. 

All this time and for six weeks later that he dwelt in 
Nottingham the King could hear nothing of Robin, who 
seemed to have vanished into the earth with his merry 
men, though one by one the deer were vanishing too! 

At last one day a forester came to the King, and told 
him that if he would see Robin he must come with him 
and take five of his best knights. The King eagerly 
sprang up to do his bidding, and the six men clad in 
monk's clothes mounted their palfreys and rode down to 
the Abbey, the King wearing an Abbot's broad hat over 
his crown and singing as he passed through the green- 

Suddenly at the turn of the path Robin and his 
archers appeared before them. 

"By your leave, Sir Abbot," said Robin, seizing the 
King's bridle, "you will stay a while with us. Know 
that we are yeomen, who live upon the King's deer, and 
other food have we none. Now you have abbeys and 

184 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

churches, and gold in plenty; therefore give us some of it, 
in the name of holy charity." 

"I have no more than forty pounds with me," answered 
the King, "but sorry I am it is not a hundred, for you 
should have had it all." 

So Robin took the forty pounds, and gave half to his 
men, and then told the King he might go on his way. 
"I thank you," said the King, "but I would have you 
know that our liege lord has bid me bear you his seal, 
and pray you to come to Nottingham." 

At this message Robin bent his knee. 

"I love no man in all the world 
So well as I do my King," 

he cried, "and, Sir Abbot, for thy tidings, which fill my 
heart with joy, to-day thou shalt dine with me, for love of 
my King. " Then he led the King into an open place, and 
Robin took a horn and blew it loud, and at its blast seven- 
score of young men came speedily to do his will. 

" They are quicker to do his bidding than my men are 
to do mine, " said the King to himself. 

Speedily the foresters set out the dinner, venison and 
white bread, and Robin and Little John served the King. 
"Make good cheer, Abbot, for charity," said Robin, 
"and then you shall see what sort of life we lead, that so 
you may tell our King. " 

When he had finished eating the archers took their 
bows, and hung rose-garlands up with a string, and every 
man was to shoot through the garland. If he failed, he 
should have a buffet on the head from Robin. 

Good bowmen as they were, few managed to stand 
the test. Little John and Will Scarlett, and Much, all 
shot wide of the mark, and at length no one was left in 

Robin Hood 185 

but Robin himself and Gilbert of the White Hand. 
Then Robin fired his last bolt, and it fell three fingers 
from the garland. "Master," said Gilbert, "you have 
lost, stand forth and take your punishment. " 

"I will take it," answered Robin, "but, Sir Abbot, I 
pray you that I may suffer it at your hands. " 

The King hesitated. "It did not become him," he 
said, "to smite such a stout yeoman," but Robin bade 
him smite on ; so he turned up his sleeve, and gave Robin 
such a buffet on the head that he rolled upon the ground. 

"There is pith in your arm," said Robin. "Come, 
shoot a-main with me. " And the King took up a bow, 
and in so doing his hat fell back and Robin saw his face. 

" My lord the King of England, now I know you well, " 
cried he, and he fell on his knees and all the outlaws 
with him. "Mercy I ask, my lord the King, for my men 
and me." 

"Mercy I grant, " then said the King, "and therefore I 
came hither, to bid you and your men leave the green- 
wood and dwell in my court with me. " 

" So it shall be, " answered Robin, "I and my men will 
come to your court, and see how your service liketh us. " 

"Have you any green cloth, " asked the King, "that you 
could sell to me?" and Robin brought out thirty yards 
and more, and clad the King and his men in coats of 
Lincoln green. "Now we will all ride to Nottingham," 
said he, and they went merrily, shooting by the way. 

The people of Nottingham saw them coming, and 
trembled as they watched the dark mass of Lincoln green 
drawing near over the fields. "I fear lest our King be 
slain," whispered one to another, "and if Robin Hood 
gets into the town there is not one of us whose life is safe "; 
and every man, woman, and child made ready to fly. 

1 86 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The King laughed out when he saw their fright, and 
called them back. Right glad were they to hear his voice, 
and they feasted and made merry. A few days later the 
King returned to London, and Robin dwelt in his court 
for twelve months. By that time he had spent a hundred 
pounds, for he gave largely to the knights and squires he 
met, and great renown he had for his openhandedness. 

But his men who had been born under the shadow of 
the forest, could not live amid streets and houses. One 
by one they slipped away, till only little John and Will 
Scarlett were left. Then Robin himself grew home-sick, 
and at the sight of some young men shooting thought 
upon the time when he was accounted the best archer in 
all England, and went straightway to the King and 
begged for leave to go on a pilgrimage to Bernisdale. 

"I may not say you nay," answered the King; "seven 
nights you may be gone and no more." And Robin 
thanked him, and that evening set out for the greenwood. 

It was early morning when he reached it at last, and 
listened thirstily to the notes of singing birds, great and 

"It seems long since I was here," he said to himself; 
"It would give me great joy if I could bring down a deer 
once more," and he shot a great hart, and blew his horn, 
and all the owtlaws of the forest came flocking round 
him. "Welcome," they said, "our dear master, back to 
the greenwood tree," and they threw off their caps and 
fell on their knees before him in delight at his return. 

For two and twenty years Robin Hood dwelt in Sher- 
wood forest after he had run away from court, and 
naught that the King could say would tempt him back 
again. At the end of that time he fell ill; he neither 
ate nor drank, and had no care for the things he loved. 

Robin Hood 187 

"'I must go to merry Kirkley, " said he, "and have my 
blood let." 

But Will Scarlett, who heard his words, spoke roundly 
to him. "Not by my leave, nor without a hundred bow- 
men at your back. For there abides an evil man, who is 
sure to quarrel with you, and you will need us badly. " 

"If you are afraid, Will Scarlett, you may stay at 
home, for me," said Robin, "and in truth no man will I 
take with me, save Little John only, to carry my bow. " 

" Bear your bow yourself, master, and I will bear mine." 

"Very well, let it be so," said Robin, and they went on 
merrily enough till they came to some women weeping 
sorely near a stream. 

"What is the matter, good wives?" said Robin Hood. 

"We weep for Robin Hood and his dear body, which 
to-day must let blood, " was the answer. 

"Pray why do you weep for me?" asked Robin; "the 
Prioress is the daughter of my aunt, and well I know she 
would not do me harm for all the world. " And he passed 
on, with Little John at his side. 

Soon they reached the Priory, where they were let in 
by the Prioress herself, who bade them welcome heartily, 
and not the less because Robin handed her twenty pounds 
in gold as payment for his stay, and told her if he cost 
her more, she was to let him know of it. Then she began 
to bleed him, and for long Robin said nothing, giving her 
credit for kindness and for knowing her art, but at length 
so much blood came from him that he suspected treason. 
He tried to open the door, for she had left him alone in 
the room, but it was locked fast, and while the blood was 
still flowing he could not escape from the casement. So 
he lay down for many hours, and none came near him, 
and at length the blood stopped. Slowly Robin uprose 

1 88 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and staggered to the lattice-window, and blew thrice on 
his horn; but the blast was so low, and so little like what 
Robin was wont to give, that Little John, who was 
watching for some sound, felt that his master must be 
nigh to death. 

At this thought he started to his feet, and ran swiftly 
to the Priory. He broke the locks of all the doors that 
stood between him and Robin Hood, and soon entered 
the chamber where his master lay, white, with nigh all 
his blood gone from him. 

" I crave a boon of you, dear master, " cried Little John. 

"And what is that boon," said Robin Hood, "which 
Little John begs of me?" And Little John answered, 
"It is to burn Kirkley Hall, and all the nunnery." 

But Robin Hood, in spite of the wrong that had been 
done him, would not listen to Little John's cry for re- 
venge. "I never hurt a woman in all my life," he said, 
"nor a man that was in her company. But now my time 
is done. That know I well. So give me my bow and a 
broad arrow, and wheresoever it falls there shall my 
grave be digged. Lay a green sod under my head and 
another at my feet, and put beside me my bow, which 
ever made sweetest music to my ears, and see that green 
and gravel make my grave. And, Little John, take care 
that I have length enough and breadth enough to 
lie in. " So Robin he loosened his last arrow from the 
string. He then died. And where the arrow fell Robin 
was buried. 



KING RICHARD, with his chief nobles, disem- 
barked at Acre an hour before noon on the 8th 
day of June, 1191. I had the good fortune to see him 
without difficulty, by the favour of one who has a charge 
in the ordering of the harbour. Nor was this a small 
thing, for there was such a press and crowding of 

The King was as noble a warrior as ever I have seen. 
Some that I have known were taller of stature, but never 
one that bore himself more bravely and showed more 
likelihood of strength and courage. They that are learned 
in such things said that his arms were over-long for the 
height of his body ; but this is scarce a fault in a swords- 
man, another inch of length adding I know not how 
much of strength to a blow. He was of a ruddy com- 
plexion, his eyes blue, with a most uncommon fire in 
them, such as few could dare to look into if his wrath 
was kindled, his countenance, such as befitted a ruler of 
men, being of an aspect both generous and command- 

Some ten days after his coming to the camp King 
Richard was taken with sickness. This was never al- 
together absent, but it grew worse, as might indeed be 
looked for, in the heats of summer. The King sickened 
on the day which the Christians celebrate as the Feast of 

190 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

St. Barnabas.* I was called to see him, having, as I 
have said, no small fame as a healer. Never have I 
seen a sick man more intractable. My medicine he 
swallowed readily, I may say, even greedily. Had I 
suffered it, he would have taken it at intervals shorter by 
far than I ordered. Doubtless he thought that the more 
a man has of a good thing, the better it is for him. (So 
indeed many believe, and of other things besides medi- 
cine, but wholly without reason). But in this I hindered 
him, leaving with those who ministered to him sufficient 
for one dose only. 

He was troubled about many things, about the siege, 
which, as he justly thought, had already been too much 
drawn out, about King Philip of France, whom he loved 
not nor trusted, about his engines of war, of which the 
greater part had not yet reached the camp; the ships 
that bore them having been outsailed by the rest of the 
fleet. His fever was of the intermittent sort, coming 
upon him on alternate days. On the days when he was 
whole, or as nearly whole as a man sick of this ague may 
ever be, he was busy in the field, causing such engines 
as he had to be set in convenient places for the assault 
of the town, and in other cares such as fall to a general. 
When he was perforce shut in his pavilion by access of 
the fever, he suffered himself to take no rest. Messengers 
were coming and going from morning to night with news 
of the siege — he could never hear enough of the doings of 
the French King — and there were always near him men 
skilful in the working and making of engines. One 

* The longest day according to the old calendar. So the old adage has 

" Barnaby bright, Bamaby bright; 
Longest day and shortest night." 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 191 

would show him some new thing pictured upon paper; 
another would bring a little image, so to speak, of an 
engine, made in wood or iron. Never was a child more 
occupied with a toy than was King Richard with these 
things. I am myself no judge of such matters, but I 
have heard it said by men well acquainted with them, 
that the King had a marvellous understanding of such 
contrivances. But these cares were a great hindrance to 
recovery. So at least I judged, and doubtless it had been 
thus in the case of most men. But the King was not as 
others, and, as it seemed to me, he drove away his dis- 
ease by sheer force of will. 

On a certain evening when King Richard was mending 
apace of his fever one came to his tent — an English 
knight, Hugh Brown by name — who brought the news 
that the King of the French had commanded that a general 
assault should be made on the town the very next day. 
The King would fain know the cause of this sudden 
resolve. "Well," said the English knight, "it came 
about, as I understand, in this fashion. The Turks 
have this day destroyed two engines of King Philip on 
which he had spent much time and gold." "Aye!" 
said King Richard, "I know the two; the cat and the 
mantlet. They are pretty contrivings the both of them, 
but I set not such store on them as does my brother of 
France." And here I should say that the cat was like 
to a tent made of hides long and narrow and low upon the 
ground, with a pointed end as it might be a plough- 
share, which could be brought up to the walls by men 
moving it from within, and so sheltered from the stones and 
darts of the enemy. As for the mantlet, it was made 
in somwhat the same fashion, only it was less in size, 
nor was it to be brought near to the wall. King Philip 

192 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

loved dearly to sit in it, cross-bow in hand — the French, 
I noted, like rather the cross-bow, the English the 
long-bow — and would shoot his bolts at any Turk that 
might show himself upon the walls. 

But to come back to the knight's story. "An hour or 
so after noon, when the cat had been brought close to the 
wall, and the mantlet was in its accustomed place, some 
fifty yards distant, the Turks made an attack on both 
at the same moment of time. On to the cat they dropped 
a heavy beam ; and when this with its weight had broken 
in the roof, or I should rather say the back of the cat, a 
great quantity of brushwood, and after the brushwood 
a whole pailful of Greek fire*— the machine was over near 
to the wall, so that these things could be dropped on it 
from above. At the mantlet they aimed bolts from a strong 
engine which they had newly put in place, and by ill luck 
broke it through. And verily before the nimblest- 
tongued priest in the whole realm of England could say 
a hunting-mass, both were in a blaze." 

What the man might mean by the priest and the hunt- 
ing-mass I knew not then, but heard after, that when a 
noble will go forth hunting, the service which they call 
the mass is shortened to the utmost, and the priest that 
can say it more speedily than his brethren is best esteemed. 

"And my brother of France," cried the King, "how 
fared he ?" "He had as narrow an escape with his life," 
answered the knight, "as ever had Christian king. His 
mantle, nay his very hair was singed, and as for his cross- 
bow, he was constrained to leave it behind." "And 
he gave commands for the assault in his anger?" said 
the King. " 'Tis even so," answered Sir Hugh. 

* A composition, supposedly of asphalt, nitre and sulphur. It burnt 
under water. 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 193 

; 'My brother of France is, methinks, too greedy of 
gain and glory; if he had been willing to ask our help, he 
had done better." But King Richard sorrowed for the 
brave men, fellow-soldiers of the Cross with him, who 
had fallen to no purpose. Nevertheless, in his secret 
heart, he was not ill-pleased that the French King had not 
taken the town of Acre. 

On the second day after the failure of the French 
assault upon the town, King Richard would make his 
own essay. He was not yet wholly recovered of his 
sickness; but it would have passed the wit of man to 
devise means by which he could be kept within his 
pavilion; nor must it be forgotten that such restraint 
might have done him more of harm than of good. So 
his physicians, for he had those who regularly waited on 
him (though I make bold to say that he trusted in me 
rather than in them), gave him the permission which he 
had taken. He had caused a mantlet to be built for him 
which was brought up to the edge of the ditch with which 
the town was surrounded. In this he sat, with a cross- 
bow in hand, and shot not a few of the enemy, being 
skilful beyond the common in the use of this weapon. 
But towns are not taken by the shooting of bolts, how- 
soever well aimed they may be. This may not be done 
save by coming to close quarters. 

It was on the thirty-fourth day after the coming of 
King Richard that the town was given up. Proclamation 
was made throughout the camp that no one should tres- 
pass by deed or word against the departing Turks. x\nd, 
indeed, he who would insult men so brave would be of a 
poor and churlish spirit. To the last they bore them- 
selves with great courage and dignity. On the morning 
of the day of their departure they dressed themselves in 

j 94 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

their richest apparel, and being so drest showed them- 
selves on the walls. This done, they laid aside their 
garments, piling them in a great heap in the market-place, 
and so marched forth from the town, each clad in his 
shirt only, but with a most cheerful contenance. 

When the last of the Turks had left the town the 
Christian army entered. Half of it was given to the 
French king, who had for his own abode the House of 
the Templars, and half to King Richard, to whom was 
assigned the palace of the Caliph. In like manner the 
prisoners and all the treasure were equally divided. 

For one shameful deed the English King must answer. 
Of this deed I will now tell the story. When the army 
had had sufficient rest — and the King knew well that 
no army must have more than is sufficient, suffering 
more from excess than from defect in this matter — and 
it was now time to advance, there arose a great question 
touching the agreement made when the town was given 
up. There was much going to and fro of messengers 
and embassies between the English King and the Caliph 
Saladin, much debating, and many accusations bandied 
to and fro. Even to this day no man can speak cer- 
tainly of what was done or not done in this matter. 
What I write, I write according to the best of my know- 
ledge. First, then, it is beyond all doubt that the Caliph 
did not send either the Holy Cross or the money which 
had been covenanted, or the prisoners whom he had 
promised to deliver up; but as to the cause wherefore 
he did not send them there is no agreement, the Christians 
affirming one thing, the followers of Mahomet another. 
As to the Holy Cross, let that be put out of the account. 
No man that I ever talked with — and I have talked with 
many — ever saw it. 'Tis much to be doubted whether 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 195 

it was in being. As to the money, that the Caliph had 
it, or a great portion of it, at hand, is certainly true. It 
was seen and counted by King Richard's own envoys. 
As to the prisoners, it is hard to discover the truth. For 
my part, I believe that the Caliph was ready to deliver 
up all that he had in his own hands or could find else- 
where, but that he had promised more in respect of this 
than he was able to perform. Many of those whom he 
had covenanted to restore were dead, either of disease 
or by violence. As for disease, it must be noted that a 
sick man was likely to fare worse in the hands of Turks ; 
as for violence, there was not much diversity between the 
Christians and the followers of Mahomet. But this may 
be said, that one who invades the land of others is like 
to suffer worse injury should he come into their power 
than he would have the disposition to inflict upon them. 
Whatever, then, the cause, the Caliph had engaged in 
this matter far more than he was able to perform. But 
he did not fail from want of good faith. I take it that it 
was from the matter of the money that there came the 
breaking of the agreement. To put it very shortly, the 
Caliph said, "Restore to me the hostages and you shall 
receive the gold"; King Richard said, "Send on the 
gold and you shall receive the hostages." And neither 
was the Caliph willing to trust the good faith of the King, 
nor the King the good faith of the Caliph. 

So there was delay after delay, much talk to no pur- 
pose, and the hearts of men, both on one side and on the 
other, growing more hot with anger from day to day. 
And there was also the need which increased from day to 
day, as, indeed, it needs must, for the Christians to be 
about the business on which they came. They had taken 
the town of Acre, but that was but the beginning of their 

196 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

enterprise, for they had to conquer the whole land. And 
how could the army march with a whole mulitude of 
prisoners in their hands ? It would need no small num- 
ber of men to keep watch over them, lest they should 
escape, or, what was more to be feared, do an injury to 
the army. What could be worse in a doubtful battle 
than that there should be these enemies in its very midst ? 
I set these things down because I would not do an in- 
justice to the English King, whom I have always held as 
one to be greatly admired. Nevertheless I say again, 
that in the matter of the prisoners he did a shameful deed. 
For on the 20th day of August he commanded that all the 
prisoners that were in his hands, whether they had been 
taken in battle, or delivered up as hostages for the ful- 
filment of the covenant, should be led out of the city and 
slain. These were in number between two and three 
thousand. Some the King kept alive, for whom, as 
being of high nobility and great wealth, he hoped to 
receive a ransom; others were saved by private persons, 
a few for compassion's sake; and others in the hope of 
gain. But the greater part were slain without mercy, 
the soldiers falling upon them, without arms and help- 
less as they were. 

It was soon made plain to all that the spirit of the 
Caliph and his Turks was not broken by the losing of 
Acre. Rather were they stirred up by it to more earnest- 
ness and courage; nor did they forget how their country- 
men had been cruelly slaughtered. For a time they 
were content to watch the King's army as it went on its 
way, taking such occasion as offered itself of plundering 
or slaying. If any lagged behind, falling out of the line 
of march by reason of weariness, or seeking refreshment 
on the way, as when there was a spring of water near to 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 197 

the road, or a vineyard with grapes — 'twas just the time 
of the ripening of grapes — then the Turkish horsemen 
would be upon him. Such loiterers escaped but seldom. 
And for this business the Turks had a particular fitness, 
so quickly did they come and depart. The Christian 
knights were clad in armour, a great defense, indeed, 
against arrows and stones, but a great hindrance if a 
man would move quickly; the horses also had armour 
on them. Why do they set men on horses but that 
they may go speedily to and fro as occasion may call? 
but these knights are like to fortresses rather than to 
riders. A man on foot can easily outrun them; as for 
the Turks who rode on horses from the desert — than 
which there is no creature on earth lighter and speedier 
— they flew from the Christian who would pursue them, 
as a bird flies from a child who would catch it. 

All this while the Turks were close at hand, and ready 
to assault the King's army so soon as a convenient occa- 
sion would arise. But they did not take King Richard 
unaware, for indeed he was as watchful as he was brave. 

I will now set forth as briefly as may be the order of 
the army as it was set out for battle at Arsuf. On the 
right hand of the army was the sea, its front being set 
towards the south. In the van were the Templars, and 
next to these the Frenchmen in two divisions, the second 
being led by that Guy who called himself King of 
Jerusalem, and after the Frenchmen King Richard 
with his Englishmen; last of all, holding the rear-guard, 
were the Hospitallers. These are ever rivals of the 
Templars, and it was the King's custom so to order his 
disposition that this rivalry should work for the common 
good. On one day the Templars would lead, and the 
Hospitallers bring up the rear; on another each would 

198 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

take the other's place; and there was ever a mighty 
contention between the two companies which would bear 
itself the better. These two posts, it should be said, 
were the most full of peril ; nor was any part of the army 
save only these two companies suffered to hold either 
the one or the other. Between the divisions there was 
a small space, not more that sufficient to mark one from 
the other: otherwise the soldiers stood and marched in 
as close array as might be. Also they moved very slowly, 
travelling less than a league in the space of two hours. 
And even the King with some chosen knights rode up and 
down the lines, watching at the same time the Turks, 
so that whenever they might make assault the army 
might be ready to meet them. 

Now King Richard's commandment had been that 
the Christians should on no account break their lines to 
attack the enemy, but should only defend themselves as 
best they could. There is nothing harder in the whole 
duty of a soldier than so to stand; even they who have 
been men of war from their youth grow greatly impatient ; 
as for the younger sort they often fail to endure altogether. 
Many a man will sooner throw himself upon almost sure 
death than abide danger less by far standing still. And 
so it could be seen that day in the Christian army. The 
first to fail were the men that carried the cross-bows; 
nor, indeed, is it to be wondered at that when they had 
spent their store of bolts, they, having but short swords 
wherewith to defend themselves, should be ill content 
to hold their place. Many I did see throw away their 
bows and fly, thrusting themselves by main force into 
the ranks of the men-at-arms, who liked not to beat 
them back, nor yet to suffer them to pass. And they 
themselves had much ado to hold their ground, for it 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 199 

was a very fierce assault that they had to endure. In the 
first place there was such a shower of darts and stones 
and arrows that the very light of the sun itself was dark- 
ened, a thing which I had always before judged to be 
a fable, but saw that day to be possible. The greater 
part of them, it is true, fell without effect to the ground, 
for of twenty missiles scarce one served its purpose, but 
some were not cast in vain. As for the number, they 
lay so thick upon the ground that a man might gather 
twenty into his hand without moving from his place. 

About noon the Knights Hospitallers themselves, 
than whom, as I have said, there were no braver men in 
the whole army, sent word to the King that they could 
bear up no longer, unless they should be suffered to charge 
the enemy. But they got small comfort from the King. 
"Close up your lines," he said to the messenger, "and 
be patient. Be sure that you shall not miss your reward. " 
A second time did they send to him, the Master of the 
Company himself going on the errand, but he also came 
back with nothing done. Now the King's plan was this, 
that when the Turks should have spent their strength, 
and should also, through over-confidence and contempt 
of their adversaries, have fallen into disorder, then the 
trumpets should sound, and the whole army with one 
consent and moving all together, so that the whole of 
its strength should be put, as it were, into one blow, 
should fall upon the enemy. 'Twas a wisely conceived 
plan, save in this that there was needed for the full carry- 
ing out more than the King was like to find. He laid 
upon his soldiers a greater burden of patience than they 
could bear. 

As for the King, he was, I can scarce doubt, glad at 
heart that the season of waiting was over. Certain 

200 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

it is that not only did he not seek to call back his men 
from the charge — doubtless he knew full well that to do 
this was beyond the power of mortal — but he himself joined 
in it with the greatest vehemence; none that saw him 
but must have believed that the affair was altogether to 
his liking. If others were before him at the first, but a 
short time had passed when he was to be seen in the 
front rank, aye, and before it. Where he rode, it was 
as if Azrael had passed, for the dead lay upon the ground 
on either side. 

Never had the Caliph Saladin suffered so great a defeat 
as that which fell upon him in the battle of Arsuf; 
never, indeed, after that day did he dare to meet King 
Richard in the open field. Nevertheless, from that very 
day did the hope of the Christians that they should ac- 
complish the end of their warfare ^row less and less. 
But, if any one ask what was the cause of this falling, 
and who should bear the blame, I, for one, know not 
what answer should be made to him. There was not 
one in the whole army more brave and more generous 
in this matter than King Richard; yet even he, I hold, 
had not a wholly single heart. He was ever thinking of 
worldly things ; he desired greatly to win the city of Jeru- 
salem, yet he desired it as much for his own sake, for 
his own glory and renown, and the increase of his royal 
power, as for any other cause. 

There is no need to tell of all the combats, skirmishes, 
and the like that took place, how on one day a company 
of the Templars fell into an ambush, how on another 
the Hospitallers suffered some damage. For the most 
part the Christians had the better in these things, and 
this not a little because of the great skill and valour of 
the English King. Nevertheless^ the fortunes of the 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 201 

army seemed to go backwards rather than for- 

About this time the King began to have dealings for 
peace with the Caliph Saladin, sending an embassage 
to him, and receiving the like from him. But it was 
ever thus that the King asked more than he looked for 
the Caliph to give; and the Caliph promised more than 
he had the purpose to fulfil. There were many courtesies 
passed between them, and gifts also. King Richard 
would send a set of hawks, and, indeed, he had not much 
that he could give; but the presents that came from the 
Caliph were of exceeding richness and splendour; there 
was a tent made of cloth of gold, and horses such as Kings 
only have in their stalls, and rare beasts and birds, and 
snow from Lebanon, for the cooling of wines, and many 
other things, both for show and for use, of which it were 
long to tell. And these things, for all that they were 
costly, served the Caliph's purpose well, and for this 
reason, they seemed to show his good will, and all the 
while he was busy destroying the towns and laying waste 
the country. Of these things the King heard something, 
but not all, for in the matter of news he was ill served. And 
all the while the Turks ceased not to do all the mischief 
that they could, slaying such as strayed from the camp, 
yea, and coming into the camp itself, and doing 
men to death in their very tents, and Saladin, or rather 
Saphadin, his brother, for he it was who held con- 
verse with King Richard, when complaints were 
made of their deeds, affirmed that they were done 
by robbers and others who were not subject to 
him, and paid no reverence to his commands; of 
which pretence there need be said this only, that 
these robbers or murderers, whether they were the 

202 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Caliph's men or no, never harmed any but such as were 
his enemies. 

For all this King Richard still strove by all means 
that he could devise to come to a peaceful agreement 
with his adversaries. Nor did he refuse any instrument 
by which he might hope to compass this end. 

When a whole moon had been wasted in parleying 
and the sending of messengers to and fro, the King, 
seeing that he must accomplish his purpose by force 
of arms or not at all, led his army towards the Holy City. 
It would serve no profitable end to tell of the other places 
where he pitched his camp, or of the days which he tarried 
in this or that. Let it suffice to say that in a month's 
time he traversed so much space only as an army well 
equipped might pass over in a single day's march; and 
that about twenty-one days after the winter solstice 
the army of the Christians came to a certain place which 
is named the Casal of Beitenoble, and which in ancient 
times was, if I err not, a city of the priests. There 
it tarried some twelve days, being, much troubled 
by storms and rains, for the winds blew and the rains 
fell during the whole of this time, in such a fashion as 
I have never seen. As for the tents, only such as were 
appointed with ropes and so forth could be kept in their 
place, so violent were the blasts, so that the greater part 
of the army lay under the open sky, not a little to the 
damage of their health. The horses also were in evil 
case. These creatures, all men know, suffer from much 
sickness, and multitudes of them perished. Also there 
was a great scarcity of victuals; for the corn and even 
the biscuit were spoilt by the rain, and the hogs' flesh 
grew corrupt. 

Though not a few died of sickness, yet did the host 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 203 

daily grow greater. Many who had stayed behind in 
various cities, their zeal having grown stale, now came 
back to the camp, judging that they would do well to 
take part in an enterprise that was now near to success. 
Also many that had tarried on the march for the cause 
of sickness now made shift to come to the camp. Some 
I saw carried in litters, and others that could scarce 
set one foot before the other crawled painfully along the 
road. Many of these were slain by the Turks, but not 
the less did the rest brave the dangers of the journey. 
And in the camp there was a great furbishing of arms 
and armour, and trimming of the plumes of helmets, 
for it was counted an unseemly thing that any man should 
enter such a place as the Holy City save in his best array. 

On a certain evening, some eleven days after the coming 
of the army to Beitenoble, there was a council held in the 
tent of King Richard, at which were present the Master 
of the Templars and the Master of the Hospitallers, and 
other chief men in the army. About an hour after 
sunset the council came to an end; darkness had long 
since fallen, but it chanced to be full moon, and the faces 
of them that had been present at the council were plain 
to be seen. Before ever a word was said, it was manifest 
to all that a great misfotrune had befallen them. For 
the faces of these men were clouded with discouragement. 
And straightway all the multitude that had been gathered 
together departed every man to his own place. There 
needed no proclaiming that neither on the morrow nor 
on any other day would there be a marching to the Holy 

On the 8th day of January the army departed from 
Beitenoble, and on the 20th it came, after much toil and 
suffering, for the rain and tempest scarcely abated for 

204 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

a single hour through the twelve days, to the city of 

For some little time, King Richard and his army dwelt 
in peace in the city of Ascalon. Nor can it be denied 
that they gathered strength; the sick, being duly handled 
by their physicians, were restored to a sound body, and 
they that were wearied with the labours of long-continued 
warfare had rest and refreshment. Nevertheless it 
it may be doubted whether the King was able to advance 
the cause at all which he had in hand, namely, the taking 
of the Holy City. And the chief cause was this, that the 
Christians, not having for the present a common foe 
with whom to contend, began to quarrel among them- 
selves more grievously than : ever. So the King and the 
French, among whom, now that the French King had 
departed to his own land, a certain Duke of Burgundy 
was chief, fell out, and this with such heat, that the duke 
departed from Ascalon to Acre in great haste, and all 
the Frenchmen followed him. 

Now about this same time there came a messenger 
to King Richard bearing a letter from one that he had 
set to rule in England in his stead while he should be 
absent from his kingdom. In this letter there were 
written many things about the doings of Prince John 
the King's brother: how he had commerce with the 
French to the King's damage, and was troubling all 
loyal men, and had taken all the money that was in the 
treasury. When the King heard these things he was 
sore distraught. And indeed he was in a great strait. On 
the one hand there was the purpose for which he had 
come on his present journey, the taking again of the 
Holy City; and, on the other, there was the loss of his 
own kingdom at home. For in the letter it was plainly 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 205 

written that if he was not speedy in returning, all the 
realm of England would be lost to him. 

At the first he made no doubt of departing with but 
as little delay as might be. ''I must be gone," he said, 
"or my kingdom will not be worth a silver penny. " But 
before many days his purpose was changed. 'Twas 
said that a holy man, a priest of the land of France, 
took courage to speak to him and set before him his duty 
in this matter. He said that the hearts of all were sorely 
troubled by the King's purpose to depart — and this was 
most certainly true, seeing that they who were most 
jealous of the King and chafed most at his command 
were not less dismayed by the news of his departure than 
were his best friends. "Think too, "he is reported to 
have spoken, "how that you will greatly dim your kingly 
renown. You have done well, O King, and God has 
manifestly bestowed His blessings on you. Will you 
then be ungrateful, and, if your royal grace will suffer 
me to say so much, unfaithful to Him? Verily there is 
a great reward laid up for him that recovers the Holy 
City out of the hands of the heathen, and will you give 
this up on the bare rumour of mischief that may befall 
your estate in this world?" So the holy man is reported 
to have spoken. Such words may have had weight with 
the King, who was ever greatly moved by eloquent words. 
But I also believe that when he came to himself he judged 
that there was no great need of haste in the matter; that 
the Prince John his brother was not greatly loved, nor 
was ever like to be; that when the people of England had 
had a year's trial of his rule, if such should come to pass, 
they would be the less likely to stand by him; and, more- 
over, that if Richard should go back to his country in 
high esteem among all men, as having set up yet again 
a Christian Kingdom in the Holy City, his enemies would 

so6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

be brought nought by the mere rumour of his coming. 
Certain it is that, let the cause be what it might, he caused 
it to be made known throughout the army that they 
would set out for the Holy City in three days' time. 

Again there was great joy in the army; again the sick 
rose from their beds, and the lame threw away there 
crutches, that they might go without hindrance on this 
great journey. Again did the army come almost in sight 
of the Holy City; again were all things ready for the 
assault. And then once more the more skilful and 
prudent of the leaders hindered the matter. It was not 
well, they said to run into such danger. It might well 
be that if they should assail the city they would not take 
it; it was well-nigh certain that even if they should take 
it, they could not hold it to any good purpose. And so 
it came to pass that King Richard and the army having 
once more come to Beitenoble, once more departed, 
leaving their task unaccomplished. 

When the leaders had taken this resolve that they 
would turn back and the army was now about to depart, 
there came to King Richard a certain man-at-arms, 
who was well acquainted with the country, for indeed, 
he had travelled on foot as a pilgrim from the coast to 
Jerusalem, and this not once only but twice or thrice. 
This man said," My lord King, if you are minded to see 
the Holy City, you can do so at little pains. If you will 
ride a mile or so you will come to a hill from whence 
you can see the walls, and the hill on which the temple 
was built and other of the Holy places." But the King 
answered, "I thank you much, nor, indeed, is there any 
sight in the whole world on which I would more gladly look 
with my eyes, but I am not worthy of so great a favour 
If it had been the will of God that I should see His city, 
I do not doubt that I had done so, not as one who looks 

Richard the Lion-Hearted 207 

upon some spectacle from far, but as the conqueror 
in some great battle looks upon the thing that he has won. 
But of this grace I, by reason I doubt not of my sins, 
have been judged unworthy. " And when he had so 
spoken he turned his horse's head to the west, as being 
minded to return yet again to the sea-coast. And this 
he did. 

I have spoken of the King's courage and skill in arms 
and wisdom in leadership, nor need I say these things 
again. But one thing I will add, namely, that of all the 
men that came to this land from the West none left behind 
him so great a fame as did King Richard. So if a mother 
was minded to make a crying child hold his peace, she 
would say, "Hush, child, or King Richard shall have 
thee"; or if a horse started unaware, his rider would say, 
" Dost see King Richard in the bush?" 

On the 9th day of October, 1192, did King Richard 
set sail to return to his own country. But it fared ill 
with him on his journey. For it fell out that he was 
separated from all his friends, and that when he was in 
this case a certain duke, with whom he had had a strife, 
laid hands upon him, and laid him in prison. There 
he remained for the space of a year and more, fretting 
much, I doubt not, against his condition, for never surely 
was a man more impatient of bonds. But he could not 
escape, nor did his friends so much as know where he 
was. And when this was discovered by some strange 
chance, there was yet much delay, nor indeed was he 
set free till there had been paid for him a ransom of many 
thousands of gold pieces. Not many years after he was 
slain by a chance arrow shot from the walls of a certain 
castle which he was besieging, being then in the forty- 
second year of his age. 



TNG LOUIS sailing from Cyprus about the 24th 
day of May, 1249, came with a fair wind to 
Egypt in some four days, having a great fleet of ships, 
numbering in all, it was said, some eighteen hun- 
dred, great and small. And now there fell upon him 
the first stroke of misfortune. There arose a strong 
wind from the south which scattered the fleet, so that not 
more than a third part remained with the King. As for 
the others, they were blown far to the north, even to the 
town of Acre, and, though none were cast away, it was 
many days before they could return. Now the King's 
purpose was to lay siege to the town of Damietta, a town 
which is built on the midmost of the seven mouths of the 
Nile. It was commonly agreed that whoever should hold 
possession of this said town of Damietta might go whither- 
soever he would in the whole land of Egypt, and further, 
that whosoever should be master of Egypt could do what 
he would in the land of Palestine. 

When the King came with what was left to him over 
against the city of Damietta there was much debate 
between him and his counsellors as to what might best be 
done. "I have no mind," said he, ''to turn back, having, 
by the grace of God, come so far. Say you that I should 
do well to wait for those who have been separated from 
us ? That I would gladly do, for it grieves me much that 
they lose, so far, their share in this great enterprise. But 

Saint Louis 209 

two reasons constrain me to do otherwise. First, it 
would put the infidel in great heart if they should see me 
so delay to make trial of them; and, second, there is here 
no harbour or safe anchorage where I might wait. Nay, 
my lords, it is my purpose to attack the enemy without 
delay, for the Lord our God can save by few or by many." 

The King being thus steadfastly resolved to have no 
more delay, his nobles and knights could not choose but 
obey him. This being so, they strove among themselves 
who should be the first to come to blows with the enemy. 
There were small boats with the larger of the ships, and 
these were filled with men and rowed to the shore. This 
was not done wholly without loss, for some slipped as 
they descended from the ships, or missed their feet, the 
boat moving from under them with the motion of the 
waves, so that some were drowned and others hardly 

Meanwhile they took the great flag of Saint Denys, 
from the ship in which it was, and carried it to the shore. 
But when the King saw the flag on the shore he would 
tarry no longer, but leapt into the sea, accoutred as he 
was, and the water came up to his armpits. When he 
saw the Saracens, he said to the knight that followed 
him, "Who are these?" And the knight answered, 
"These, sir, are the Saracens." When he heard this he 
put his lance in rest, and held his shield before him, and 
would have charged them, but his counsellors would 
not suffer it. 

When the enemy saw that the King and his men had 
landed, they sent a message to the Sultan by carrier- 
pigeons; this they did three times. But it so chanced 
that the Sultan was in a fit of the fever which troubled 
him in the summer time, and he sent no answer. Then 

210 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

his men, thinking that he was dead, for they knew al- 
ready that he was sick, fled straightway from the town of 
Damietta. When the King knew this for certain, the 
bishops that were in the army sang the Te Deum with 
great joy. The army which King Louis brought with 
him numbered thirty thousand men. 

The army being thus established in the town of Dam- 
ietta, there was much debate as to what should be done. 
The King was set upon assailing the enemy without 
delay. "It is by delay," he said, and said truly, "that 
these enterprises have been ruined heretofore, for not 
only does an army grow less and less with every day by 
sickness — keep it as carefully as you will, such loss must 
needs happen — but the first fire of zeal begins to burn 
low." To such purpose the King spoke to his coun- 
sellors, nor could they gainsay his words. Yet they had 
to urge on the other part reasons so weighty that they 
could not be resisted. 

The truth is that there could not have been chosen 
a worse time for the waging of war in Egypt than that at 
which the King arrived. Whereas other rivers overflow 
their banks in the winter season, the Nile overflows 
his in summer, and this he does because his stream is 
swollen, not by rains that fall in the land of Egypt, for 
such rains are more scanty than in any other country of 
the world, but by those that fall in countries far inland 
and, haply, by the melting of snows. So it is that in 
that part of Egypt which is nearest to the sea the river 
begins to rise in the month of June, and for a quarter ot 
a year or so thereafter an army must rest perforce. The 
King was very ill served in his ministers when he was 
suffered to remain in ignorance of these things. Never- 
theless, the case being so, he had no choice but to accept 

Saint Louis 211 

the counsel of delay. It was agreed, therefore, that the 
army should tarry in Damietta till the floods of the river 
should have ceased. 

In the beginning of the month of December the King 
set out for Cairo with his army. Now the Sultan had 
sent five hundred of his knights, the bravest warriors 
and the best mounted that he could find in his whole 
army, to the end that they should harass the King's army 
as much as might be. Now the King being very careful 
of the lives of his men, as knowing that a soldier lost 
could not be replaced, had given a strict commandment 
that no one should presume to leave the line of march and 
charge the enemy. When the Turks saw this, or, haply, 
had learnt from their spies that the King had given this 
commandment, they grew bolder and bolder, till one of 
them, riding up to the line, overthrew one of the Knights 
Templar. This was done under the very eyes of the 
Master of the Temple, who, when he saw it, could no 
longer endure to be quiet. So he cried to his brethren, 
"At them, good sirs, for this is more than can be borne." 
So he spurred his horse, and the other Templars with him, 
and charged the Turks. And because their horses were 
fresh and the horses of the Turks weary, they bore them 
down. It was said that not one of the five hundred es- 
caped, many being ridden down, and the rest being 
drowned in the river. 

After this the King encamped between the two branches 
of the Nile, that which flows by Damietta and that which 
is the next to it toward the sunsetting. On the other 
side of this branch was ranged the army of the Sultan, to 
hinder the Christians from passing, an easy thing seeing 
that there was no ford, nor any place where a man might 
cross save by swimming. 

212 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

While they were in this strait there came a Bedouin 
to the camp, who said that for five hundred pieces of 
gold he would show them a good ford. When the Con- 
stable Imbert, to whom the Bedouin had spoken of this 
ford, told the matter to the King, the King said, "I will 
give the gold right willingly; only be sure that the man 
perform his part of the bargain." So the constable 
parleyed with the man; but the Bedouin would not 
depart from his purpose. "Give me the gold," said 
he, "and I will show you the ford." And because 
the King was in a strait, he consented; so the man 
received the five hundred pieces, and he showed the ford 
to certain that were sent with him. 

It was agreed that the Duke of Burgundy and other 
nobles who were not of France should keep guard in the 
camp, and that the King with his brothers should ford 
the river at the place which the Arab should show. So, 
all being ready, at daybreak they came down to the water. 
A ford there was, but not such as a man would choose 
save in the greatest need. 

The King, having with him the main body of the army, 
crossed amidst a great sounding of horns and trumpets. 
It was a noble sight to see, and nothing in it nobler and 
more admirable than the King himself. A fairer knight 
there never was, and he stood with a gilded helmet on 
his head, and a long German sword in his hand, being by 
his head and shoulders taller than the crowd. Then he 
and his knights charged the Saracens, who by this time 
had taken a stand again on the river bank. It was a 
great feat of arms. No man drew ■, long-bow that day 
or plied cross-bow. The Crusaders and the Saracens 
fought with mace and sword, neither keeping their ranks, 
but all being confused together. 

Saint Louis 213 

But the Crusaders, for all their valour, could scarce 
hold their own, because the enemy outnumbered them 
by much. Also there was a division of counsel among 
them. Also there came a messenger from them that 
were shut up in Mansoura, telling the King how hard 
pressed they were, and in what instant need of suc- 

And now the Sacarens grew more and more confident, 
for they were greatly the better in numbers ; and if, man 
for man and in the matter of arms and armour, they were 
scarce equal to the Crusaders, yet the difference was not 
so great. They pushed on, therefore, and drove the 
Christians back to the river. These were very hard 
pressed, and some were for swimming across the river to 
the camp, but by this time their horses were weary, and 
not a few perished by drowning. 

Nevertheless as time passed the Crusaders fared some- 
what better, for they drew more together, and the enemy, 
seeing that they still held their ground, and being them- 
selves not a little weary, drew back. In the end the 
King and such of the chiefs as were left got back into 
the camp. Right glad they were to rest, for the battle 
had been long and fierce. 

But they had but little peace, for that very night the 
Saracens made an attack upon the camp. A great dis- 
turbance they made, and most unwelcome to men who 
had been fighting all the day. But they did not work 
much harm. Many valiant deeds were done by the 

But the Saracens were making ready for attacking 
the camp with more force than before. And their leader 
could be seen from the camp, taking account of the 
Crusaders, and strengthening his battalions where he 

214 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

thought that the King's camp might be most conveniently 

The first attack was made on the Count of Anjou. 
He held that part of the camp that was nearest to the 
city of Cairo. Some of the enemy were on horseback 
and some on foot ; there were some also that threw Greek 
fire among the count's men. Between them they pressed 
the count so sorely that he was fain to send to the King 
for help. This the King gave without loss of time; he 
led the men himself, and it was not long before they 
chased the Saracens from this part of the field. 

When the battle was over the King called the barons 
to his tent, and thanked them for all that they had done, 
and gave them great encouragement, saying that as they 
had driven back the Saracens over and again, it would, 
beyond doubt, go well with them in the end. 

And now the army was sore distressed for want both 
of food and of water. In Damietta, indeed, there were 
yet stores of barley, rice, and other grains; but in the 
camp scarce anything that could be eaten. Some small 
fishes were caught in the river; but these were very ill 
savoured, and all the more so — so, at least, it seemed 
to such as eat them under constraint of hunger — because 
they fed on dead bodies, of which many were thrown into 
the river. For a while some portion of the stores that 
were in the city were carried across the river to the camp. 
But this the Saracens hindered, for by this time their 
ships had the mastery over the ships of the Christians. 
They kept, therefore, the river, suffering nothing to pass. 
If anything was carried across, it was but a trifle. Some 
things the country people brought into the camp, but 
these were not to be purchased save for large sums of 
money, and money was by this time scarce even among 

Saint Louis 215 

the richer sort. And when it was judged expedient that 
the King's army should cross the river again and return 
to the camp, things were worse rather than better, so 
far as victuals were concerned. It was well that the 
army should be brought together, both for attack and 
for defence, but with the greater multitude the famine 
grew worse and worse. 

After a while there was a treating for peace between 
the King and the Saracens; and for a while it seemed as 
if they might come to an agreement, and this not without 
advantage to the King. But the matter came to naught, 
because the Saracens would have the King himself as a 
hostage for the due performance of the treaty. The 
Christians would have given the King's brothers, and 
these were willing to go; but the King they could not 
give. "It would be better," said one of the bravest 
knights in the army, and in this matter he spake the mind 
of all, "that we should all be taken captive or slain, than 
that we should leave the King in pledge." 

The King, seeing that the condition of the army still 
grew from bad to worse, and that if they tarried they 
would all be dead men, commanded that they should 
make their way into the town of Damietta. And this 
the army began to do the very next night. Now the 
first thing to be cared for was the taking of the sick, of 
whom there was a great multitude, on board the ships. 
But while this was being done, the Saracens entered the 
camp on the other side. When the sailors who were 
busy in embarking the sick saw this, they loosed the 
cables by which they were moored to the shore, and 
made as if they would fly. Now the King was on the 
bank of the river, and there was a galley in waiting for 
him, whereon, if he had been so minded, he might easily 

216 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

have escaped. Nor could he have been blamed therefor, 
because he was afflicted with the dysentery that pre- 
vailed in the camp. But this he would not do; "Nay," 
he said, "I will stay with my people." But when there 
was now no hope of safety, one of his officers took him, 
mounted as he was on a pony, to a village hard by, defend- 
ing him all the way from such as chanced to fall in with 
him— but none knew that he was the King. When he 
was come to the village they took him into a house that 
there was, and laid him down almost dead. A good 
woman of Paris that was there took his head upon her 
lap, and there was no one but thought that he would die 
before nightfall. Then one of the nobles coming in 
asked the King whether he should not go to the chief of 
the Saracens, and see whether a treaty might not yet be 
made on such terms as they would. The King said yes; 
so he went. Now there was a company of the Saracens 
round the house, whither by this time not a few of the 
Christians had assembled. And one of the King's 
officers cried — whether from fear or with traitorous intent 
cannot be said — "Sir knights, surrender yourselves! 
The King will have it so; if you do not, the King will 
perish." So the knights gave up their swords, and the 
Saracens took them as prisoners. When the chief of the 
Saracens, with whom the noble aforesaid was talking, 
saw them, he said, "There can be no talk of truce and 
agreement with these men; they are prisoners." 

And now the question was not of a treaty but a ransom. 
About this there was no little debate between the Sultan 
and the King. First the Sultan required that the King 
should surrender to him the castles of the Knights Tem- 
plars and of the Hospitallers of St. John. "Nay," said 
ihe King, "that I cannot do, for they are not mine to 

Saint Louis 217 

give." This answer greatly provoked the Sultan, and he 
threatened to put the King to the torture, to which the 
King answered this only, that he was a prisoner in their 
hands, and that they could do with him as they would. 

When they saw that they could not turn him from his 
purpose by threats or by fear, they asked him how much 
money he was willing to pay to the Sultan for his ransom, 
such money being over and above the rendering up of the 
town of Damietta. Then the King made answer: "If 
the Sultan will take a reasonable sum in money for ran- 
som, I will recommend it to the Queen that she should 
pay the same." "Nay," said the envoy of the Sultan, 
"why do you not say outright that you will have it so?" 
"Because," answered the King, "in this matter it is for 
the Queen to say yea or nay. I am a prisoner, and my 
royal power is gone from me." So it was agreed that if 
the Queen would pay a thousand thousand gold pieces by 
way of ransom, the King should go free. Said the King, 
"Will the Sultan swear to this bargain?" They said 
that he would. So it was agreed that the King should 
pay for the ransom of his army a thousand thousand gold 
pieces, and for his own ransom the town of Damietta, 
"for," said he, "a King cannot be bought and sold for 
money." When the Sultan heard this, he said, "On my 
word, this is a noble thing of the Frenchman that he 
makes no bargaining concerning so great a thing. Tell 
him that I give him as a free gift the fifth part of the sum 
which he has covenanted to pay." 

All things were now settled, and there were but four 
days before the fulfilling of the treaty, when the King 
should give up Damietta to the Sultan, and the Sultan, 
on his part, should suffer the King and his people to go 
free. But lo! there came to pass that which was like to 

2i8 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

bring the whole matter to nothing. The emirs of the 
Sultan made a conspiracy against him. "Know this," 
they said one to another, "that so soon as he shall find 
himself master of Damietta, he will slay us. Let us 
therefore be beforehand with him." And it was agreed 
that this should be done. First, when the Sultan was 
going to his chamber after a banquet which he had given 
to the emirs, one, who was, indeed, his sword-bearer, 
dealt him a blow and struck off his hand. But the Sultan, 
being young and nimble, escaped into a strong tower that 
was hard by his chamber, and three of his priests were 
with him. The emirs called upon him to give himself 
up. "That," said he, "I will do, if you will give me a 
promise of my life." "Nay," they answered, "we will 
give you no promises. If you surrender not of your own 
free will, then will we compel you." Then they threw 
Greek fire at the tower, and the tower, which was built 
of pine-wood, caught fire on the instant. When the 
Sultan saw this he ran down with all the speed that he 
could, seeking to reach the river, if so be he could find a 
ship. But the emirs and their men were ranged along 
the way, nor was it long before they slew him. And he 
that dealt him the last blow came to the King, his hand 
yet dripping with blood, and said, "What will you give 
me? I have slain your enemy, who would assuredly 
have done you to death had he lived." But the King 
answered him not a word. 

Now the covenant between the King and the Saracen 
chiefs was renewed, nor was any change made in the 
conditions; only the payment was differently ordered; 
that is to say, one-half of the ransom was to be paid before 
the King left the place where he was, and the other half 
in the town of Acre. 

Saint Louis 219 

Then the emirs on the one part and the King on the 
other took the oaths that were held to be the most binding 
on them. The King indeed held staunchly by his faith, 
and when the emirs would have had him swear in a way 
that he thought to be unseemly to him as a Christian 
man he would not. And the emirs paid him the more 
honour and reverence for this very cause. It was said, 
indeed, that they would have made him Sultan of Cairo, 
if he had been minded to receive that dignity at their 
hands ; furthermore, some that knew the King affirmed 
that he was not altogether set against it. But none knew 
for certain the truth in the matter. Yet it was well 
said by one of the emirs, "There surely never was better 
or more steadfast Christian than this King Louis. Verily 
if he had been made our sultan he would never have been 
content till he had either made us all Christians, or, 
failing this, had put us all to the sword." 

And now there came a time of great peril to the pris- 
oners. First the town of Damietta was given up to the 
Saracens, the gates being opened and their flag hoisted 
on the towers. 

On the next day the paying of the ransom was begun. 
When the money was counted it was found to be short by 
some thirty thousand pieces. These were taken from 
the treasury of the Templars much against their will, but 
the necessities of the prisoners prevailed. 

As for the King, there could not have been a man more 
loyal in the fulfilling of his promise. When one of those 
that counted the money said that the Saracens had 
received less than their due by some ten thousand pieces, 
the King would not suffer but that the whole matter 
should be looked into, lest the Saracens should have 
wrong. The counter, indeed, averred that this thing 

220 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

was said in jest; but the King answered that such a jest 
was out of season, and that above all things it was neces- 
sary that a Christian should show good faith. 

Not many days after the paying of the ransom the 
King sent for his chief counsellors and opened his mind 
to them in the matter of his return to France. He said, 
''The Queen, my mother, begs me to come back to France, 
saying that my kingdom is in great peril seeing, that I 
have no peace, nor even a truce, with England. Tell me, 
then, what you think. And because it is a great matter, 
I give you eight days to consider it." 

After this the King went to Acre, where he tarried 
till what was left over of the ransom was paid. 

On the day appointed the counsellors came before the 
King, who said to them, "What do you advise? Shall 
I go, or shall I stay?" They said that they had chosen 
one from among them, a certain Guy Malvoisin, to 
speak for them. Thereupon this Guy said, "These 
lords have taken counsel together, and are agreed that 
you cannot tarry in this country without damage to your- 
self and your kingdom. For think how that of all the 
knights whom you had in Cyprus, two thousand eight 
hundred in number, there remain with you here in Acre 
scarce one hundred. Our counsel, therefore, is that you 
return to France, and there gather another army, with 
which you may come hither again and take vengeance 
on your enemies for their trepasses against God and 
against you." 

Then the King turned to a certain John, who was 
Count of Jaffa, and asked him for his judgment. Count 
John answered : "Ask me not, sire; my domain is here, 
and if I bid you stay, then it will be said that I did this 
for my own profit." But when the King was urgent for 

Saint Louis 221 

his advice he said, "If you stay for a year it will be for 
your honour." And one other of the counsellors gave 
the same judgment; but all the rest were urgent for the 
King's return. Then the King said, "I will tell you 
eight days hence what it is my pleasure to do." 

On the day appointed they all came together again, 
and the King said, "I thank you, my lords, for your 
counsel — both those who have advised my going back 
and those who have advised my staying. Now I hold 
that if I stay, my kingdom of France will be in no peril, 
seeing that the Queen, my mother, is well able to keep 
it in charge; but that if I depart, then the kingdom of 
Jerusalem will most certainly be lost, because no man 
will be bold enough to stay after I am gone. Now, it 
was for the sake of this same kingdom of Jerusalem that 
I have come hither. My purpose, therefore, is to stay." 
There was no little trouble among the barons when they 
heard these words. There were some among them who 
could not hold back their tears. But though the King 
resolved himself to stay, yet he commanded his brothers 
to depart. And this they did before many days. 

While the King tarried at Acre there came to him 
messengers from the Old Man of the Mountain. One 
of the messengers was the spokesman, and had his place 
in front; the second had in his hand three daggers, to 
signify what danger threatened him who should not listen 
to the message; the third carried a shroud of buckram 
for him who should be smitten with the daggers. The 
King said to the first envoy, "Speak on." Then the 
envoy said, "My master says, 'Know you me?' " The 
King answered, "I know him not, for I have never seen 
him; yet I have often heard others talk of him." "Why, 
then," went on the envoy, "have you not sent him such 

222 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

gifts as would have gained his friendship, even as the 
Emperor of Germany and the King of Hungary and other 
princes have done, yea, and do now year after year, know- 
ing well that they cannot live save by my lord's pleasure ?' 
The King made no answer, but bade the envoys come 
again in the afternoon. When they came they found 
the King sitting with the Master of the Templars on one 
side and the Master of the Hospitallers on the other. Now 
the Old Man is in great awe of these two, for he knows that 
if he slay them there will be put in their place other two 
as good or better. The envoys were not a little dis- 
turbed when they saw the two. And the Master of the 
Templars said, "Your lord is over bold to send you with 
such a message for the King. Now be sure that we would 
have drowned you in the sea, but that so doing might be 
a wrong to him. Go now to your lord, and come again 
in fourteen days with such a token and such gifts as may 
suffice for the making of peace." 

So the envoys departed, and came again in the time 
appointed, and they brought with them the shirt of the 
Old Man and his ring, which was of the finest gold, and 
with these things this message: "As man wears no gar- 
ment that is nearer to him than his shirt, so the Old 
Man would have the King nearer to him than any other 
King upon earth ; and as a ring is the sign of marriage by 
which two are made one, so the Old Man would have 
himself and the King to be one." Other gifts there 
were, an elephant of crystal, very cunningly wrought, 
and a monster which they call a giraffe, also of crystal, 
and draughts and chessmen, all finely made. The 
King, on his part, sent to the Old Man a great store of 
jewels, and scarlet cloth, and dishes of gold and bridles 
of silver. 

Saint Louis 223 

While the King was at Jaffa it was told him that if 
he desired to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem the Sultan 
of Damascus would give him a safe-conduct. The 
King consulted his nobles on the matter, and both he 
and they were of one mind in the matter, to wit, that he 
should not go. "For," said they, "if the King should 
go as a pilgrim, when he has not been able to take the 
Holy City itself out of the hands of the infidel, then will 
other Kings in time to come do the same. They will be 
content to go as pilgrims, but will take no thought as to 
the city, whether it be held by Christian or infidel. " 

After these things the King went to the city of Sidon 
and fortified it with strong walls, for he was greatly un- 
willing to give up his hope of winning the whole land out 
of the hands of the infidel. But when he had brought 
this work to an end, there came news to him from his 
own country that the Queen his mother, who was charged 
with the government thereof, was dead. Then he took 
counsel with his nobles what he should do, and it seemed 
to them that he must of necessity return to France. 
One among them put the case before the King as follows: 

"Sire, we see that it will not profit the kingdom of 
Jerusalem that you tarry longer here. You have done 
what was in your power. You have fortified the city 
of Sidon, and Caesarea, and Jaffa, and you have made 
the city of Acre much stronger than it was. And now 
for your own kingdom's sake, you must needs depart. " 
And to this the King gave his consent, though with an 
unwilling heart. So he departed, and this, as it chanced, 
on his birthday. As the ship went forth from the harbour 
he said to the Lord of Joinville, who stood by him, 
"On this day I was born." And the Lord of Joinville 
said to him, " Truly, sire, I should say that you are begin- 

224 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

ning another life, now that you are safely quit of this 
land of death. " 

Some seventeen years after the things last recorded, 
I took a journey to the Island of Sardinia, and made my 
abode at a town on the west coast, called Neapolis. 
When I had sojourned there two months there came in 
sight on a certain day a great fleet of ships, which those 
who were acquainted with such things declared to be 
from the land of France. As for the crowd that came 
ashore that day, it were best to say little. It is more to 
the purpose to say that I met with one whom I knew, 
having consorted with him in time past, and this the more 
constantly because he followed the same occupation as 
I. I asked him, "How came you hither? If you are 
bound for Palestine, this is but a short stage in your 
journey." He answered me with something of a smile 
in his eye, though his mouth was set, "Where could we 
more conveniently halt than here, for we are bound for 
Tunis?" "For Tunis?" said I; "but how shall this 
help you for the taking of Jerusalem?" "That," said 
he, "you must ask of some one that has more wisdom 
than I. But this I know that the King was told, by whom 
I know not, that the Bey of Tunis desired to be baptised. 
This, then, is cause sufficient for him. Are you minded 
to come with me? If so, I can find you a place in the 
King's ship, for it is in it that I sail. " 

When I heard that, I consented without delay. So 
that night I gave my friend the shelter of my lodging; 
and the next day he took me with him, and commended 
me to one of the chief officers of the ship, bearing witness 
to my skill as a physician. On the fourth day we sailed, 
and came in two days, the wind blowing from the north, 
to the harbour of Tunis. As for the King.. I saw him 

Saint Louis 225 

but once. His valets carried him up on the deck; and, 
to tell the truth, he looked as little fit for doing feats of 
arms as man could look. But I thought that the sickness 
which takes many men upon the sea might be the cause. 

Scarce had the army landed than there began a most 
grievous sickness. In truth the place for the camp 
had been ill chosen, for there was a little stream into 
which much of the filth of the city was wont to run. 
From this there came a most evil smell. Many also, 
for want of good water, would drink of the stream, 
than which there could be no more deadly thing. 

On the very day after he landed from his ship the King 
fell sick. His physician being disabled by the same 
malady, I was called in to the King's help; and from the 
first I saw that, save by a miracle, he could not live. On 
the fourth day he died, making as good and devout an end 
as any that I have ever seen. He would know the truth, 
for he was not one of those who buoy themselves up with 
false hopes. And when he knew it, then first with the 
help of the priests that attended him he prepared his 
soul, and afterward he gave what time remained to 
teaching the son who should be King after him how he 
should best do his duty to God and man. 

I heard much from him who had put it in my mind 
to come from the island of Sardinia concerning King 
Louis. Never, he told me, was a King more bent on 
doing justice and judgment. These he maintained with 
his whole heart and strength, not having any respect of 
persons, or having regard to his own profit. Though he 
held bishops and priests in great reverence, being most 
careful of all the offices of religion, yet he would withstand 
even these when they seemed to seek that which was not 
fair and just. He was a lover of peace far beyond the 

226 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

wont of Kings, who indeed, for the most part, care but 
little for it, so that men say in a proverb, "War is the 
game of Kings. " Of the poor he was a great and con- 
stant favourer. Every day he had a multitude of them 
fed at his cost in his palace, and sometimes he would serve 
himself, and it was his custom on a certain day to wash 
the feet of poor men. In his eating and drinking he was 
as temperate as man could be, drinking, for example, 
but one cup of wine, and that largely mingled with water. 
In all things wherein great men ofttimes offend he was 
wholly blameless and beyond reproach. Of all men that 
I had any knowledge of, whether by sight or by hearing, 
in this business of the Crusades there was not one who 
could be so much as named in comparison with King 
Louis. To King Louis religion was as life itself. It 
filled, as it were, his whole soul; he judged of all things 
by it; he hungered and thirsted after it. And yet of all 
who bore the cross this man, being, as he was, so much the 
most faithful to his vow, by far the truest cross-bearer 
of all, yet failed the most utterly. Of such things I have 
not the wit to judge; yet this, methinks, is manifest, 
that the Kingdom of God is not set forward by the power 
of armies. I do believe that if King Louis, being what 
he was, a man after God's own heart, had come, not 
with the sword, but preaching the truth by his life, he 
had done more for the cause that he had at heart. As it 
was, he furthered it not at all, so far as I can discern, but 
rather set it back. That he did not gain for Christendom 
so much as a single foot of earth is not so much to be 
lamented, as that he made wider the breach between 
Christian men and the followers of Mahomet. And this 
he did, though he was in very truth the most Christlike 
of all the men that I have ever seen. 



WILLIAM TELL was born toward the close 
of the thirteenth century. I cannot tell you 
the precise year of his birth; but in the year 1307 he 
was a married man, and lived with his wife and children, 
in the village of Burglen, near the great town of Altdorf, 
in the canton of Uri. 

Tell maintained his family chiefly by hunting the 
chamois, and shooting other wild game. So skilful was 
he in the use of the bow, that the fame of his exploits in 
that way had obtained for him the name of "The Crossbow- 
man of Burglen." He was also very skilful in the man- 
agement of boats upon the lakes. His father had fol- 
lowed the profession of a pilot, and William Tell, though 
he preferred the life of a hunter, understood the navi- 
gation of the lakes better than almost any boatman in the 
canton of Uri. It was a saying, "That William Tell 
knew how to handle the rudder as expertly as the bow." 
In short, he was a person of strong natural talents, who 
observed on everything he saw, and acquired all the 
knowledge he could. 

Switzerland was at that time in a state of slavery to 
Albert, Duke of Austria, who had recently been selected 
Emperor of Germany. He had taken great offence 
with the Swiss, because they wished Count Adolph of 
Nassau to be elected Emperor of Germany instead of 
him. The first use he made of his power was to punish 

228 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

the Swiss for having favoured the cause of his rival; and 
he was so unwise as to declare publicly, "that he would 
no longer treat them as subjects, but as slaves." In 
pursuance of this wicked resolution he deprived them 
of many of their rights and privileges, and altered their 
ancient laws and customs. 

By these proceedings the Emperor rendered his gov- 
ernment very unpopular, and when he found that the 
people expressed dissatisfaction, he built castles and 
fortresses all over the country, and filled them with soldiers 
to awe the people into submission. In each of these 
fortresses he placed a governor, who exercised despotic 
power in the district over which his sway extended. The 
inhabitants of the canton Uri, in particular, had to com- 
plain of the oppression of their German governor, Gessler, 
who had committed several murders, and acted in such 
a manner as to excite general indignation, by his pride, 
cruelty, and injustice. The whole country was indeed 
ripe for a revolt, in case an opportunity should occur of 
throwing off the German yoke. 

One cold autumnal evening, the blaze of the cheerful 
fire which the wife of William Tell had kindled on the 
hearth, against her husband's return, gleamed through 
the rude latticed casements of their cottage window. 
The earthern floor of the humble dwelling bad been 
freshly swept; a clean cloth of the matron's own 
spinning, was spread on the homely board, which was 
garnished with wooden bowls and spoons of the most 
snowy whiteness; and a kettle of fish-soup, with herbs, 
was stewing over the fire. Some flat oaten cakes, de- 
signed to be eaten hot with butter, were baking on the 

The babe was sleeping peacefully in the cradle; two 

William Tell 229 

or three of the other little ones, weary with their sportive 
play, had been laid in their cribs. Henric and Lewis, 
two lovely boys of five and six years old, having promised 
to be very good, if allowed to sit up till their father's 
return, were watching their mother, who was employed 
in roasting a fine fat quail which their cousin, Lalotte, 
who had arrived at the discreet age of fourteen, was 
basting, and spinning the string by which it was sus- 
pended before the fire. 

"Mother/' said Henric, "if my father does not come 
home very soon, that quail will be done too much." 

"What then?" asked Lalotte. 

"I was thinking, cousin Lalotte, that it would be a 
pity for it to be spoiled, after you and mother have taken 
so much pains in cooking it; and it smells so very good." 

"Oh, fie! you greedy child; you want to eat the bird 
that is cooking for your father's supper," said Lalotte. 
"If I were my aunt, I would send you to bed only for 
thinking of such a thing." 

"You are not the mistress — you are not the mistress!" 
cried the sturdy rebel Henric; "and I shall not go to bed 
at your desire." 

"But you shall go to bed, young sir, if your cousin 
Lalotte tells you so to do, " said his father, who had entered 
during the dispute. 

"Alack!" cried Henric turning to his little brother, 
"if we had only been patient, Lewis, we should have 
tasted the nice quail, and heard all our father's news into 
the bargain." 

"There now, see what you have lost by being naughty 
children," cried Lalotte, as she led the offenders into 
their little bedroom. 

"Thy father's news is not for thy young ears, my boys," 

1 230 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

murmured William Tell, as the door closer aiter the 
unconscious children. 

"There is a sadness in thy voice and trouble on thy 
brow," said the anxious wife of Tell, looking earnestly 
in his face. "Wilt thou not trust me with the cause of 
thy care?" 

"Annette," replied Tell, "thou hast been a good and 
faithful wife to me — yea, and a prudent counsellor and 
friend in the time of need. Why, then, should I do a 
thing and conceal it from thee, my well-beloved ?" 
"What is it thou hast done, my husband?" 
"That for which thou wilt blame me, perchance." 
"Nay, say not so; thou art a good man." 
"Thou knowest, my loving wife, the sad state of 
slavery to which this unhappy country of Switzerland 
is reduced by the unlawful oppression of our foreign 
rulers," said Tell. 

"I do," she replied; "but what have peasants to do 
with matters so much above them ?" 

"Much!" returned Tell. "If the good laws made by 
the worthies of the olden time, for the comfort and pro- 
tection of all ranks of people, be set at naught by strangers, 
and all the ancient institutions, which were the pride and 
the glory of our land, be overthrown, by those to whom 
we owe neither the love of children, nor the allegiance of 
subjects, then, methinks, good wife, it becomes the duty 
of peasants to stand forth in defence of their rights. I 
have engaged myself, with three -and- thirty of my valiant 
countrymen, who met this night on the little promontory 
of land that juts into a lonely angle of the Lake, to con- 
cert with them means for the deliverance of my coun- 
"But how can three-and-thirty men hope to oppose 

William Tell 


the power of those who enthral Switzerland ?" asked the 
wife of Tell. 

" Great objects are often effected by small instruments," 
replied he. "The whole population of Switzerland is 
exasperated against the German tyrants, who have of 
late abused their power so far as to rouse the indignation 
even of women and of children against them. The 
father of Arnold Melchthal, one of the 'Brothers of 
Riitli,' as our band is called, was recently put to a cruel 
death by the unjust sentence of Gessler, the governor 
of our own canton of Uri; and who knoweth, gentle wife, 
whether his jealous caprice may not induce him to 
single me out for his next victim ?" 

"Single thee out, my husband!" exclaimed Annette 
turning pale^ "Nay, what accusation could he bring 
against thee?" 

"That of being the friend of my country, which is, of 
course, a crime not to be forgiven by a person of Gessler's 

"But Gessler is too much exalted above our humble 
sphere of life, to be aware of a peasant's sentiments on 
such matters," said Annette. 

" Gessler will not permit us to indulge the thoughts of 
our hearts in secret," said Tell; "for he hath recently 
devised a shrewd test, whereby he is enabled to discern 
the freeman from the slave throughout this province." 

"And what is the test which the governor of Uri em- 
ployeth for that purpose?" 

" Thou hast heard our good pastor read in the Scrip- 
ture of the prophet Daniel, of the golden image, which 
the tyrant Nebuchadnezzar caused to be erected. 
He made a decree that all nations and people of the world 
should bow down and worship it, and that those who 

232 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

refused to do so should be cast into a burning fiery fur- 
nace. Reraemberest thou this, my beloved?" 

" Certainly," Annette replied. " But what hath Ges- 
sler to do with that presumptuous folly of the King of 

"Gessler," replied Tell, "imitates the presumption, 
albeit it is not in his power to rival the grandeur, of 
Nebuchadnezzar; for he hath set up an idol in the 
market-place of Altdorf, to which he requireth blind 
homage to be paid by fools and cowards. Now, the 
King of Babylon's idol, the prophet tells us, was of 
solid gold, a metal which the world is, I grieve to say, 
too prone to worship ; but Gessler's paltry Baal is but the 
empty ducal bonnet of Austria, which he hath exalted on 
a pole; and he commands the men of Uri to bow down 
before it, under penalty of death. Wouldst thou wish 
thy husband to degrade the name of a Swiss, by stooping 
to such an action?" 

"No," she replied, "1 should blush for thee, if thou 
wert capable of such baseness." 

"Thou hast spoken like a free woman," he exclaimed. 
"Yea, and thou shalt be the mother of free children: for 
the first time I go to Altdorf I will resist the edict, which 
enjoins me and my countrymen to pay homage to the 
senseless bauble which the German governor hath ex- 
alted in the market-place." 

"But why go to Altdorf at all, my husband?" said the 
wife to Tell. 

" My business calls me to Altdorf, and I shall go thither 
like an honest man, in the performance of my duty," 
replied Tell. "Thinkest thou that I am either to con- 
fess myself a slave, by bending my body to an empty cap, 
or to permit it to be a scarecrow, that shall fright me from 

William Tell 233 

entering the capital city of my native province, lest I 
should draw upon myself the penalty of refusing to per- 
form a contemptible action, enjoined by a wicked man ? 
No, no, my sweet wife; I shall go to Altdorf, when oc- 
casion may require, without considering myself bound 
to observe Gessler's foolish edict." 

The return of Lalotte put an end to this discourse; 
and Annette began to assist her in taking up the supper. 

Lalotte was the orphan of Tell's brother. Her par- 
ents had both died when she and her brother Philip were 
very young, and they had been adopted into the family 
of her kind uncle soon after his marriage with Annette. 
Lalotte was affectionate, sprightly, and industrious. 
She assisted her aunt in the houshold work and the dairy; 
and it was her business to take charge of the children, 
whom she carefully instructed in such things as she knew, 
and laboured to render them virtuous and obedient. 

Philip, her brother, who was about a year older than 
herself, had been unfortunately a spoiled child. He was 
self-willed and intractable, and, though far from a bad 
disposition, was always getting himself and others into 
scrapes and difficulties. 

That night his place at the board was vacant, which 
his uncle observing, said, 

"Lalotte, where is your brother Philip?" 

"Absent, uncle, I am sorry to say," replied Lalotte. 

" It is not usual for Philip to desert the supper meal," 
observed Tell, "even if he be absent the rest of the day. 
I am afraid he is after no good." 

A hasty step was heard; and Lalotte exclaimed, "I 
should not wonder if that were my scrapegrace brother!" 

"It does not sound well of you to call him so, Lalotte, 
though he is a sad plague to us all," said Tell. 

234 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The door was hastily opened, and Philip bounced in 
out of breath, and covered with mud. He flung himself 
on a wooden settle beside the fire, and gave way to fits of 

"How now, Philip! what is the cause of all this?" 
asked Tell gravely. 

"Hurrah!" shouted he, springing from his seat, and 
capering about, "I have done such a deed!" 

"Some notable piece of folly, no doubt," observed his 
uncle; "what is it, boy?" 

"A deed that will render my name famous throughout 
the whole province of Uri, my good uncle. Everybody 
is talking about it in Altdorf at this very moment," ex- 
claimed Philip, rubbing his hands. 

"You have long been celebrated there as the ringleader 
of mischief," observed Tell; "but I doubt whether you 
will have much reason to exult in the evil reputation you 
have acquired, Philip. Therefore go to bed, and when 
you say your prayers, ask for grace to reform your evil 

"My good uncle," replied Philip, "be content. This 
night I have turned patriot, raised a rabble of boys, and 
pelted down the fool's cap which old Gessler had stuck 
up in the market-place of Altdorf, for Switzers to pay 
homage to. Is not that a glorious deed !" 

"It is of a piece with the rest of your folly. Were you 
called upon to pay homage to the cap ?" 

"By no means, uncle, else must I perforce have made 
my obeisance to the empty bonnet of the Emperor-Duke 
of Austria. But this exploit of mine was after dark, 
when one boy could not be distinguished from another; 
and there were fully fifty of us engaged in pelting at the 
mock majesty till down it came ? feathers and all, souse 

William Tell 235 

into the mud. Then, oh stars! how we all ran! But it 
was my stone that hit it, take notice: ha! ha! ha!" 

"Your head must be as devoid of brains as the empty 
cap you pelted, Philip, or you never would have engaged 
in any such adventure." 

"How, uncle '."cried Philip in amaze; " would you have 
me pay homage to the ducal bonnet without a head in it ?" 

"It seems you were not required to do so, Philip; 
therefore you had no pretext for raising a riot to break 
the peace." 

"But, uncle, do you intend to yield obedience to the 
governor's tyrannous edict?" 

"Philip," replied Tell, "I am a man, and of age U 
form a correct judgment of the things which it may be 
expedient to do or proper to refuse. But it is not meet 
for idle boys to breed riots and commit acts of open 
violence, calculated to plunge a whole country into 
confusion. " 

Philip withdrew with an air of great mortification and 
the family soon after retired to rest. 

The next day William Tell took his thoughtless nephew 
with him, on a hunting excursion, since it was necessary 
he should find some better occupation than throwing 
stones. After several days they returned, loaded with 
the skins of the chamois that had been slain by the 
unerring arrow of Tell. 

His wife and children hastened to the cottage 
door to welcome him, when they beheld him coming. 
"Behold, my beloved," said Tell, "how well I have 
sped in the chase! These skins will bring in a mine o» 
wealth against the winter season. To-morrow is Altdorf 
fair and I shall go thither to sell them. " 

"Hurrah!" shouted Philip. "Is Altdorf fair to- 

236 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

morrow? Oh, my faith, I had forgotten it. Well, 1 
shall go thither, and have some fun." 

" And I mean to go too, cousin Philip, " said Henric. 

" Not so fast, young men, " cried Tell. "Altdorf fair 
will be full of soldiers and turbulent people, and is not 
a proper place for rash boys and children. " 

"But you will take care of us, father, dear father,'* 
said Henric, stroking his father's arm caressingly. 

"I shall have enough to do to take care of myself > 
Henric," replied Tell. "So you must be a good boy, 
and stay with your mother. " 

" But I won't be a good boy, if you leave me at home," 
muttered the little rebel. 

"Then you must be whipped, sir," said his father; 
" for we love you too well to permit you to be naughty 
without punishing you. " 

On hearing this, Henric began to weep with anger. 
So his father told Lalotte to put him to bed without his 

Now Philip was a silly, good-natured fellow, and 
fancied that his little cousin, Henric, of whom he 
was very fond, was ill-treated by his father. So he took 
an opportunity of slipping a sweet-cake into his pouch, 
from the supper-board, with which he slily stole to 
Henric's crib. 

"Never mind my cross uncle, sweet cousin," said he: 
" see, I have brought you a nice cake. " 

"Oh! I don't care about cakes," cried Henric. "I 
want to go to Altdorf fair to-morrow. " 

" And you shall go to Altdorf fair, " said Philip. 

"But how can I go, when father says he won't take 
me?" sobbed Henric. 

"There, dry your eyes, and go to sleep," whispered 

William Tell 237 

Philip; "as soon as my uncle is gone I will take you to 
the fair with me; for I mean to go, in spite of all he has 
said to the contrary. " 

"But what will mother say?" asked Henric. 

"We won't let her know anything about it," said 

"But Lalotte won't let us go; for Lalotte is very cross, 
and wants to master me. " 

"A fig for Lalotte!" cried the rude Philip; "do you 
think I care for her?" 

"I won't care for Lalotte when I grow a great big boy 
like you, cousin Philip; but she makes me mind her now, " 
said Henric. 

"Never fear; we will find some way of outwitting 
Mademoiselle Lalotte to-morrow," said Philip. 

The next morning William Tell rose at an early hour, 
and proceeded to the fair at Altdorf, to sell his chamois 

Philip instead of getting up, and offering to carry 
them for his uncle, lay in bed till after he was gone. He 
was pondering on his undutiful scheme of taking little 
Henric to the fair, in defiance of Tell's express commands 
that both should stay at home that day. 

Henric could eat no breakfast that morning for think- 
ing of the project in which Philip had tempted him to 
engage. His kind mother patted his curly head, and 
gave him a piece of honeycomb for not crying to go to 
the fair. He blushed crimson-red at this commendation, 
and was just going to tell his mother all about it, when 
Philip, guessing his thoughts, held up his finger, and 
shook his head at him. 

When his mother and Lalotte went into the dairy to 
churn the butter they begged Henric and Philip to 

238 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

take care of Lewis and the other little ones, so that 
they should not get into any mischief. No sooner, 
however, were they gone, than Philip said, 

"Now, Henric, is our time to make our escape, and go 
to the fair." 

" But, " said Henric, " my mother gave me some sweet 
and honeycomb just now, for being a good boy; and it 
will be very naughty of me to disobey my father's com- 
mands after that. So, dear Philip, I was thinking that 
I would stay at home to-day, if you would stay too, and 
make little boats for me to float on the lake. " 

"I shall do no such thing, I promise you," replied 
Philip; "for I mean to go to the fair, and see the fun. 
You may stay at home, if you like — for I don't want to 
be plagued with your company. " 

"Oh, dear!" cried Henric, "but I want very much to 
go to the fair, and see the fun too. " 

"Come along then, "said Philip; "or we shall not get 
there in time to see the tumblers, or the apes and dancing 
bears, or the fire-eaters, or any other of the shows. " 

It was nearly two hours before the truants were missed 
by Henric's mother and Lalotte; for they were all that 
time busy in the dairy. At length they heard the children 
cry; on which, Lalotte ran into the room, and found no 
one with them but Lewis. 

"What a shame," cried Lalotte, "for that lazy boy 
Philip, to leave all these little ones, with only you, Lewis. 
Where is Henric, pray ? " 

"Oh! Henric is gone to the fair with cousin Philip," 
lisped little Lewis. 

"Oh that wicked Philip!" cried Lalotte. "Aunt! 
aunt! Philip has run off to Altdorf fair, and taken 
Henric with him!" 

William Tell 

2 39 

"My dear Lalotte," said her aunt, "you must put on 
your hood and sabots, and run after them. Perhaps, as 
you are light-footed, you can overtake them, and bring 
Henric back. I am sure, some mischief will befall him." 

Lalotte hastily threw her gray serge cloak about her, 
and drew the hood over her head. She slipped her little 
feet into her sabots, or wooden shoes, and took the road 
to Altdorf, hurrying along as fast as she could, in hope of 
overtaking the truants before they reached the town. 

More than once the little maiden thought of turning 
back, but the remembrance of Philip's rash and inconsi- 
derate temper filled her with alarm for the safety of the 
child whom he had tempted away from home. She re- 
flected that, as her uncle was at Altdorf, it would be her 
wisest course to proceed thither to seek him out, and to 
inform him of his little boy being then in the fair. 

Lalotte entered the market-place of Altdorf, at the mom- 
ent when her uncle, having disposed of his chamois-skins 
to advantage, was crossing from the carriers' stalls to a 
clothier's booth to purchase woollen cloths for winter 
garments. Fairs were formerly marts, where merchants 
and artisans brought their goods for sale; and persons 
resorted thither, not for the purpose of riot and revelling, 
but to purchase useful commodities, clothing, and house- 
hold goods at the best advantage. 

William Tell had been requested by his careful wife to 
purchase a variety of articles for the use of the family. 
He was so intent in performing all her biddings, to the 
best of his ability, that he never once thought of the cap 
which the insolent governor, Gessler, had erected in the 
market-place, till he found himself opposite to the lofty 
pole on which it was exalted. He would have passed it 
unconsciously had he not been stopped by the German 

240 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

soldiers, who were under arms on either side the pole, 
to enforce obedience to the insulting edict of the governor 
of Uri. Tell then paused, and, raising his eyes to the object 
to which the captain of the guard, with an authoritative 
gesture, directed his attention, beheld the ducal cap of 
Austria just above him. 

The colour mounted to the cheek of the free-born hunter 
of the Alps, at the sight of this badge of slavery of his 
fallen country. Casting an indignant glance upon the 
foreign soldiers who had impeded his progress, he moved 
sternly forward, without offering the prescribed act of 
homage to the cap. 

"Stop!" cried the captain of the guard; "you are in- 
curring the penalty of death, rash man, by your disobe- 
dience to the edict of his excellency the Governor of 

"Indeed!" replied Tell. "I was not aware that I 
was doing anything unlawful. " 

"You have insulted the majesty of our lord the Emperor 
by passing that cap without bowing to it, " said the officer. 

"I wist not that more respect were due to an empty 
cap, than to a cloak and doublet, or a pair of hose," 
replied Tell. 

"Insolent traitor! dost thou presume to level thy rude 
gibes at the badge of royalty?" cried the governor, 
stepping forward from behind the soldiers, where he 
had been listening to the dispute between Tell and the 

Poor Lalotte, meantime, having caught a glimpse of 
her uncle's tall, manly figure through the crowd, had 
pressed near enough to hear the alarming dialogue in 
which he had been engaged with the German soldiers. 
While, pale with terror, she stood listening with breathless 

William Tell 241 

attention, she recognised Philip at no great distance, with 
little Henric in his arms, among the spectators. 

The thoughtless Philip was evidently neither aware how 
near he was to his uncle, nor of the peril in which he stood. 
With foolish glee, he was pointing out the cap to little 
Henric; and though Lalotte could not hear what he was 
saying, she fancied he was rashly boasting to the child of 
the share in the exploit of pelting it down a few nights 

While her attention was thus painfully excited she 
heard some of the people round her saying, 

"Who is it that has ventured to resist the governor's 

"It is William Tell, the crossbow-man of Biirglen, " 
replied many voices. 

"William Tell!" said one of the soldiers; "why it was 
his kinsman who raised a rabble to insult the ducal bonnet 
the other night. " 

"Ay, it was the scapegrace, Philip Tell, who assailed 
the cap of our sovereign with stones, till he struck it 
down," cried another. 

"Behold where the young villain stands," exclaimed 
a third, pointing to Philip. 

"Hallo, hallo! seize the young traitor, in the name of 
the Emperor and the governor !" shouted the Germans. 

"Run, Philip, run — run for your life!" cried a party 
of his youthful associates. 

Philip hastily set his little cousin on his feet, and start- 
ed off with the speed of the wild chamois of the Alpine 
mountains; leaving little Henric to shift for himself. 

"The child, the child! |the precious boy! he will be 
trampled to death!" shrieked Lalotte. 

Henric had caught sight of his father among the crowd 

242 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

while Philip was holding him up to look at the ducal cap, 
and he had been much alarmed lest his father should see 
him. But the moment he found himself abandoned by 
Philip, he lifted up his voice, and screamed with all his 
might, "Father, father!" 

The helplessness, the distress, together with the un- 
common beauty of the child, moved the heart of a peasant 
near him, to compassion. "Who is your father, my fair 
boy?" said he. "Point him out, and I will lead you to 
him. " 

"My father is William Tell, the crossbow-man of 
Burglen," said the child. "There he is. close to the 
cap on the pole yonder. " 

"Is he your father, poor babe?" said the peasant. 
"Well, you will find him in rare trouble, and I hope you 
may not be the means of adding to it, my little man. " 

No sooner had the kind man cleared the way through 
the crowd for his young companion, and conducted him 
within a few yards of the spot where William Tell stood, 
than the urchin drew his hand away from his new friend, 
and running to his father, flung his little arms about his 
knees, sobbing, "Father, dear father, pray forgive me 
this once, and I will never disobey you again. " 

Henric made his appearance at an unlucky moment 
both for his father and himself; for the cruel governor of 
Uri, exasperated at the manly courage of Tell, seized the 
boy by the arm and sternly demanded if he were his 

"Harm not the child, I pray thee," cried Tell: "he is 
my first born." 

"It is not my intention to do him harm," replied the 
governor. "If any mischief befall the child, it will be 
by thy own hand, traitor. Here," cried he to one of his 

William Tell 243 

soldiers, "take this boy, tie him beneath yon linden-tree, 
in the centre of the market-place, and place an apple 
on his head " 

"What means this?" cried Tell. 

"I am minded to see a specimen of your skill as an 
archer, " replied Gessler. "I am told that you are the 
best marksman in all Uri; and, therefore, your life being 
forfeited by your presumptuous act of disobedience, I 
am inclined, out of the clemency of my nature, to allow 
you a chance of saving it. This you may do, if you can 
shoot an arrow so truly aimed as to cleave the apple upon 
thy boy's head. But if thou either miss the apple, or 
slay the child, then shall the sentence of death be in- 
stantly executed. " 

"Unfeeling tyrant!" exclaimed Tell; "dost thou think 
that I could endeavour to preserve my own life by risking 
that of my precious child?" 

" Nay, " replied Gessler, " I thought I was doing thee a 
great favour by offering thee an alternative, whereby thou 
mightest preserve thy forfeited life by a lucky chance. " 

"A lucky chance!" exclaimed Tell: "and dost thou 
believe that I would stake my child's life on such a desper- 
ate chance as the cast of an arrow launched by the agitated 
hand of an anxious father, at such a mark as that ? Nay, 
look at the child thyself, my lord. Though he be no kin 
to thee, and thou knowest none of his pretty ways and 
winning wiles, whereby he endeareth himself to a parent's 
heart — yet consider his innocent countenance, the artless 
beauty of his features, and the rosy freshness of his 
rounded cheeks, which are dimpling with joy at the sight 
of me, though the tears yet hang upon them — and then 
say, whether thou couldst find in thine heart to aim an 
arrow that perchance might harm him?" 

244 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

"I swear," replied Gessler, "that thou shalt either 
shoot the arrow, or die!" 

"My choice is soon made," said Tell, dropping the 
bow from his hand. " Let me die! " 

"Ay, but the child shall be slain before thy face ere 
thine own sentence be executed, traitor!" cried the 
governor, "if thou shoot not at him." 

"Give me the bow once more!" exclaimed Tell, in a 
hoarse, deep voice; "but in mercy let some one turn the 
child's face away from me. If I meet the glance of those 
sweet eyes of his, it will unnerve my hand; and then, 
perchance, the shaft, on whose true aim his life and 
mine depend, may err. " 

Lalotte, knowing that all depended on his remaining 
quiet, as soon as the soldiers had placed him with his 
face averted from his father, sprang forward, and whis- 
pered in Henric's ear, " Stand firm, dear boy, without 
moving, for five minutes, and you will be forgiven for 
your fault of this morning. " 

There was a sudden pause of awe and expectation 
among the dense crowd that had gathered round the 
group planted within a bow-shot of the linden-tree 
beneath which the child was bound. Tell, whose arms 
were now released, unbuckled the quiver that was slung 
across his shoulder, and carefully examined his arrows, 
one by one. He selected two: one of them he placed in 
his girdle, the other he fitted to his bow-string; and then 
he raised his eyes to Heaven, and his lips moved in prayer. 
He relied not upon his own skill but he asked the assis- 
tance of One in whose hands are the issues of life and 
death; and he did not ask in vain. The trembling, agit- 
ated hand that a moment before shook with the strong 
emotion of a parent's anxious fears, became suddenly 

William Tell 245 

firm and steady; his swimming eyes resumed their keen, 
clear sight, and his mind recovered its wonted energy 
of purpose at the proper moment. 

Lalotte's young voice was the first to proclaim, aloud, 
"The arrow hath cleft the apple in twain! and the 
child is safe. " 

" God hath sped my shaft, and blessed be His name!" 
exclaimed the pious archer, on whose ear the thunders 
of applause, with which the assembled multitude hailed 
his successful shot, had fallen unheeded. 

The soldiers now unbound the child; and Lalotte 
fearlessly advanced, and led him to his father. But 
before the fond parent could fold his darling to his 
bosom, the tyrant Gessler sternly demanded for what 
purpose he had reserved the second arrow, which he had 
seen him select and place in his belt. 

"That arrow," replied Tell, giving way to a sudden 
burst of passion, "that arrow was designed to avenge 
the death of my child, if I had slain him with the other. " 

"How to avenge?" exclaimed the governor, furiously. 
"To avenge, saidst thou? and on whom didst thou 
intend thy vengeance would fall?" 

" On thee, tyrant!" replied Tell, fixing his eyes sternly 
on the governor. " My next mark would have been thy 
bosom, had I failed in my first. Thou perceivest that 
mine is not a shaft to miscarry." 

"Well, thou hast spoken frankly," said Gessler; "and 
since I have promised thee thy life I will not swerve from 
my word. But as I have now reason for personal ap- 
prehensions from thy malice, I shall closet thee hence- 
forth so safely in the dungeons of Ktissnacht, that the 
light of sun or moon shall never more visit thine eyes; 
and thy fatal bow shall hereafter be harmless. " 

246 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

On this the guard once more laid hands on the intrepid 
archer, whom they seized and bound, in spite of the entrea- 
ties of Lalotte, and the cries and tears of little Henric, 
who hung weeping about his father. 

"Take him home to his mother, Lalotte; and bear 
my last fond greetings to her and the little ones, whom I, 
peradventure, shall see no more," said Tell, bursting 
into tears. The mighty heart which had remained firm 
and unshaken in the midst of all his perils and trials, 
now melted within him at the sight of his child's tears, 
the remembrance of his home, and anticipations of the 
sufferings of his tender wife. 

The inhuman Gessler scarcely permitted his prisoner 
the satisfaction of a parting embrace with Henric and 
Lalotte, ere he ordered him to be hurried on board a 
small vessel in which he embarked also with his armed 
followers. He commanded the crew to row to Brunnen, 
where it was his intention to land, and, passing through 
the territory of Schwyz, to lodge the captive Tell in the 
dungeon of Kiissnacht, and there to immure him for life. 

The sails were hoisted and the vessel under weigh, 
when suddenly one of those storms common on the lake 
of Uri overtook them, accompanied with such violent 
gusts of wind, that the terrified pilot forsook the helm; 
and the bark, with the governor and his crew, was in dan- 
ger of being ingulfed in the raging waters. Gessler, 
like most wicked people, was in great terror at 
the prospect of death, when one of his attendants re- 
minded him that the prisoner, William Tell, was no less 
skilful in the management of a boat than in the exercise 
of the bow. So he ordered that Tell should be unbound, 
and placed at the helm. 

The boat, steered by the master-hand of the intrepid 

William Tell 247 

Tell, now kept its course steadily through the mountain 
surge; and Tell observed, "that by the grace of God, 
he trusted a deliverance was at hand. " 

As the prow of the vessel was driven inland, Tell 
perceived a solitary table rock and called aloud the rowers 
to redouble their efforts, till they should have passed the 
precipice ahead. At the instant they came abreast this 
point he snatched his bow from the plank, where it was 
lying forgotten during the storm, and, turning the helm 
suddenly toward the rock, he sprang lightly on shore, 
scaled the mountain, and was out of sight and beyond 
reach of pursuit, before any on board had recovered from 

Tell, meantime, entered Schwyz, and having reached 
the heights which border the main road to Kussnacht, 
concealed himself among the brushwood in a small hollow 
of the road, where he knew Gessler would pass on his 
way to his own castle, in case he and his followers escaped 
and came safely to shore. This, it appeared they did, 
and having effected a landing at Brunnen, they took 
horse, and proceeded towards Kussnacht, in the direction 
of the only road to the castle. 

While they were passing the spot where Tell lay con- 
cealed, he heard the cruel tyrant denouncing the most 
deadly vengeance, not only on himself, but his helpless 
family: " If I live to return to Altdorf, " he exclaimed, 
" I will destroy the whole brood of the traitor Tell, mother 
and children, in the same hour. " 

"Monster, thou shalt return to Altdorf no more!" 
murmured Tell. So, raising himself up in his lair, and 
fitting an arrow to his bow, he took deadly aim at the 
relentless bosom that was planning the destruction o^all 
his family. 

248 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The arrow flew as truly to the mark as that which he 
had shot in the market-place of Altdorf , and the tyrant 
Gessler fell from his horse, pierced with a mortal wound. 

The daring archer thought that he had taken his aim 
unseen by human eye; but, to his surprise, a familiar 
voice whispered in his ear, "Bravo, uncle! that was the 
best-aimed shaft you ever shot. Gessler is down, and 
we are a free people now. " 

"Thou incorrigible varlet, what brings thee here?" 
replied Tell, in an undervoice, giving Philip a rough 
grip of the arm. 

"It is no time to answer questions, " returned Philip. 
"The Riitli band are waiting for thee, if so be thou 
canst escape from this dangerous place; and my business 
here was to give thee notice of the same. " 

On this, Tell softly crept from the thicket, and, followed 
by his nephew, took the road to Stienen, which under 
cover of darkness, they reached that night. 

Philip, by the way, after expressing much contrition 
for having seduced little Henric to go to the fair with 
him, informed his uncle that Henric and Lalotte had 
been safely conducted home by one of the band of the 
Riitli who chanced to be at Altdorf fair. 

When they reached Stienen Tell was received with open 
arms by Stauffacher, the leader of the Riitli band; and 
with him and the other confederates, he so well concerted 
measures for the deliverance of Switzerland from the 
German yoke, that, in the course of a few days, the whole 
country was in arms. The Emperor of Germany's 
forces were everywhere defeated; and on the first day 
of the year, 1308, the independence of Switzerland was 

His grateful countrymen would have chosen William 

William Tell 249 

Tell for their sovereign, but he nobly rejected the offer, 
declaring that he was perfectly contented with the station 
of life in which he was born, and wished to be remembered 
in history by no other title than that of the Deliverer of 

This true patriot lived happily in the bosom of his 
family for many years, and had the satisfaction of seeing 
his children grow up in the fear of God and the practice 
of virtue. 



HOPE you have not forgotten, my dear child, 
that all the cruel wars of Scotland arose out 
of the debate between the great lords who claimed 
the throne after King Alexander the Third's death. The 
Scottish nobility rashly submitted the decision of that 
matter to King Edward I of England, and thus opened 
the way to his endeavouring to seize the kingdom of 
Scotland to himself. It was natural that such of the 
people as were still determined to fight for the deliverance 
of their country from the English, should look round for 
some other King, under whom they might unite themselves, 
to combat the power of England. 

Amongst these, the principal candidates, were two 
powerful noblemen. The first was Robert Bruce, Earl 
of Carrick; the other was John Comyn, or Cuming, 
of Badenoch, usually called the Red Comyn, to distin- 
guish him from his kinsman, the Black Comyn, so named 
from his swarthy complexion. These two great and 
powerful barons had taken part with Sir William Wal- 
lace in the wars against England; but, after his defeat, 
being careful of losing their great estates, and considering 
the freedom of Scotland as beyond the possibility of 
being recovered, both Bruce and Comyn had not only 
submitted themselves to Edward, and acknowledged his 
title as King of Scotland, but even borne arms, along 
with the English, against such of their countrymen as still 

Robert Bruce 251 

continued to resist the usurper. But the feelings of 
Bruce concerning the baseness of this conduct, are said, by 
the old tradition of Scotland, to have been awakened by 
the following incident. In one of the numerous battles, or 
skirmishes, which took place at the time between the 
English and their adherents on the one side, and the in- 
surgent or patriotic Scots upon the other, Robert the 
Bruce was present, and assisted the English to gain the 
victory. After the battle was over, he sat down to dinner 
among his southern friends and allies, without washing 
his hands, on which there still remained spots of the 
blood which he had shed during the action. The English 
lords, observing this whispered to each other in mockery, 
"Look at that Scotsman, who is eating his own blood!" 
Bruce heard what they said, and began to reflect that the 
blood upon his hands might be indeed called his own, 
since it was that of his brave countrymen who were 
fighting for the independence of Scotland, whilst he was 
assisting its oppressors, who only laughed at and mocked 
him for his unnatural conduct. He was so much shocked 
and disgusted that he arose from table, and, going into 
a neighbouring chapel, shed many tears, and, asking par- 
don of God for the great crime he had been guilty of, 
made a solemn vow that he would atone for it by doing 
all in his power to deliver Scotland from the foreign yoke. 
Accordingly, he left, it is said, the English army, and 
never joined it again, but remained watching an oppor- 
tunity for restoring the freedom of his country. 

Now, this Robert the Bruce was held the best warrior 
in Scotland. He was very wise and prudent, and an 
excellent general; that is, he knew how to conduct an 
army, and place them in order for battle, as well or better 
than any great man of his time. He was generous, too, 

252 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and courteous by nature; but he had some faults, which 
perhaps belonged as much to the fierce period in which 
he lived as to his own character. He was rash and pas- 
sionate, and in his passion he was sometimes relentless 
and cruel. 

Robert the Bruce had fixed his purpose, as I told you, 
to attempt once again to drive the English out of Scotland, 
and he desired to prevail upon Sir John, the Red Comyn, 
who was his rival in his pretensions to the throne, to join 
with him in expelling the foreign enemy by their common 
efforts. With this purpose, Bruce requested an inter- 
view with John Comyn. They met in the Church of the 
Minorites in Dunfries, before the high altar. What 
passed betwixt them is not known with certainty; but 
they quarrelled, either concerning their mutual preten- 
sions to the Crown, or because Comyn refused to join 
Bruce in the proposed insurrection against the English; 
or, as many writers say, because Bruce charged Comyn 
with having betrayed to the English his purpose of rising 
up against King Edward. It is, however, certain, that 
these two haughty barons came to high and abusive 
words, until at length Bruce forgot the sacred character 
of the place in which they stood, and struck Comyn a 
blow with his dagger. Having done this rash deed, he 
instantly ran out of the church and called for his horse. 
Two friends of Bruce were in attendance on him. See- 
ing him pale, bloody, and in much agitation they eagerly 
inquired what was the matter. 

"I doubt," said Bruce, "that I have slain the Red 

" Do you leave such a matter in doubt ?" said one, 
"I will make sicker!" — that is, I will make certain. 
Accordingly, he and his companion rushed into the church 

Robert Bruce 253 

and made the matter certain with a vengeance, by dis- 
patching the wounded Comyn with their daggers. His 
uncle, Sir Robert Comyn, was slain at the same time. 

This slaughter of Comyn was a rash and cruel action. 
It was followed by the displeasure of Heaven ; for no man 
ever went through more misfortunes than Robert Bruce, 
although he at length rose to great honour. After the 
deed was done, Bruce might be called desperate. He 
had committed an action which was sure to bring down 
upon him the vengeance of all Comyn's relations, the 
resentment of the King of England, and the displeasure 
of the Church, on account of having slain his enemy 
within consecrated ground. He determined, therefore, 
to bid them all defiance at once, and to assert his pre^ 
tensions to the throne of Scotland. He drew his own 
followers together, summoned to meet him such barons 
as still entertained hopes of the freedom of the country, 
and was crowned King at the Abbey of Scone, the usual 
place where the Kings of Scotland assumed their authority. 

Everything relating to the ceremony was hastily per- 
formed. A small circlet of gold was hurriedly made, to 
represent the ancient crown of Scotland, which Edward 
had carried off to England. The Earl of Fife, descen- 
dant of the brave Macduff, whose duty it was to have 
placed the crown on the King's head, would not give his 
attendance, but the ceremonial was performed by his 
sister, Isabella, Countess of Buchan. 

Edward was dreadfully incensed when he heard that, 
after all the pains which he had taken, and all the blood 
which had been spilled, the Scots were making this new 
attempt to shake off his authority. Though now old, 
feeble, and sickly, he made a solemn vow, in presence of 
all his court, that he would take the most ample ven- 

554 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

geance upon Robert the Bruce and his adherents; after 
which he would never again draw his sword upon a 
Christian, but would only fight against the unbelieving 
Saracens for the recovery of the Holy Land. He marched 
against Bruce accordingly, at the head of a powerful 

The commencement of Bruce's undertaking was most 
disastrous. He was crowned on the twenty-ninth of 
March, 1306. On the eighteenth of May he was ex- 
communicated by the Pope, on account of the murder of 
Comyn within consecrated ground, a sentence which ex- 
cluded him from all benefits of religion, and authorized 
any one to kill him. Finally, on the nineteenth of June, 
the new King was completely defeated near Methven by 
the English Earl of Pembroke. Robert's horse was 
killed under him in the action, and he was for a moment 
a prisoner. But he had fallen into the power of a Scottish 
knight, who, though he served in the English army, did 
not choose to be the instrument of putting Bruce into 
their hands, and allowed him to escape. 

Bruce, with a few brave adherents, among whom was 
the young lord of Douglas, who was afterward called the 
Good Lord James, retired into the Highland mountains. 
The Bruce's wife, now Queen of Scotland, with several 
other ladies, acompanied her husband and his few fol- 
lowers during their wanderings. There was no way of 
providing for them save by hunting and fishing. Driven 
from one place in the Highlands to another, starved out 
of some districts, and forced from others by the opposi- 
tion of the inhabitants, Bruce attempted to force his way 
into Lorn; but he found enemies everywhere. The 
MacDougals, a powerful family, then called Lords of 
Lorn, were friendly to the English, and attacked Bruce 

Robert Bruce 255 

and his wandering companions as soon as they attempted 
to enter their territory. The chief, called John of Lorn, 
hated Bruce on account of his having slain the Red 
Comyn, to whom this MacDougal was nearly related. 
Bruce was again defeated by this chief. He directed his 
men to retreat through a narrow pass, and, placing him- 
self last of the party, he fought with and slew such of the 
enemy as attempted to press hard on them. Three fol- 
lowers of MacDougal, a father and two sons, called Mac- 
Androsser, all very strong men, when they saw Bruce 
thus protecting the retreat of his followers, rushed on the 
King at once. Bruce was on horseback, in the strait 
pass betwixt a precipitous rock and a deep lake. He 
struck the first man a blow with his sword, as cut off 
his hand and freed the bridle. The man bled to death. 
The other brother had meantime grasped Bruce by the 
leg, and was attempting to throw him from horseback. 
The King, setting spurs to his horse, made the animal 
suddenly spring forward, so that the Highlander fell under 
the horse's feet, and, as he was endeavouring to rise again, 
Bruce cleft his head in two with his sword. The father, 
seeing his two sons thus slain, flew desperately at the 
King, and grasped him hy the mantle so close to his 
body, that he could not have room to wield his long sword. 
But with the heavy pummel of that weapon the King 
struck this third assailant so dreadful a blow, that he 
dashed out his brains. Still, however, the Highlander 
kept his dying grasp on the King's mantle; so that, to 
be free of the dead body, Bruce was obliged to undo the 
brooch, or clasp, by which it was fastened, and leave 
that, and the mantle itself, behind him. The brooch, 
which fell thus into the possession of MacDougal of Lorn, 
is still preserved in that ancient family as a memorial. 

256 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

The King met with many such encounters amidst his 
dangerous and dismal wanderings; yet, though almost 
always defeated by the superior numbers of the English, 
and of such Scots as sided with them, he still kept up his 
own spirits and those of his followers. He was a better 
scholar than was usual in those days, when, except 
clergymen, few people learned to read and write. But 
King Robert could do both very well; and we are told that 
he sometimes read aloud to his companions, to amuse 
them, when they were crossing the great Highland lakes, 
in such wretched leaky boats as they could find for that 
purpose. Loch Lomond, in particular, is said to have 
been the scene of such a lecture. You may see by this, 
how useful it is to possess knowledge. 

At last dangers increased so much around the brave 
King Robert, that he was obliged to separate himself 
from his Queen and her ladies. So Bruce left his Queen, 
with the Countess of Buchan and others, in the only 
castle which remained to him, which was called Kil- 
drummie, and is situated near the head of the river Don 
in Aberdeenshire. The King also left his brother, Nigel 
Bruce, to defend the castle against the English; and he 
himself, with his second brother Edward, who was a very 
brave man, went over to an island called Rachrin, on the 
coast of Ireland, where Bruce and the few men who 
followed his fortunes passed the winter of 1306. In the 
meantime the castle of Kildrummie was taken by the 
English, and Nigel Bruce, a beautiful and brave youth, 
was cruelly put to death by the victors. The ladies who 
had attended on Robert's Queen, as well as the Queen 
herself, and the Countess of Buchan, were thrown into 
strict confinement. 

The Countess of Buchan had given Edward great of- 

Robert Bruce *57 

fence by being the person who placed the crown on the 
head of Robert Bruce. She was imprisoned within the 
Castle of Berwick, in a cage. The cage was a strong 
wooden and iron piece of frame-work, placed within an 
apartment, and resembling one of those places in which 
wild-beasts are confined. There were such cages in 
most old prisons to which captives were consigned, who 
were to be confined with peculiar rigour. 

The news of the taking of Kildrummie, the captivity 
of his wife, and the execution of his brother, reached 
Bruce while he was residing in a miserable dwelling at 
Rachrin, and reduced him to the point of despair. After 
receiving the intelligence from Scotland, Bruce was lying 
one morning on his wretched bed, and deliberating with 
himself whether he had not better resign all thoughts of 
again attempting to make good his right to the Scottish 
crown, and, dismissing his followers, transport himself 
and his brothers to the Holy Land, and spend the rest of 
his life in fighting against the Saracens. But then, on 
the other hand, he thought it would be both criminal and 
cowardly to give up his attempts to restore freedom to 
Scotland while there yet remained the least chance of his 
being successful in an undertaking, which, rightly con- 
sidered, was much more his duty than to drive the infidels 
out of Palestine. 

While he was divided betwixt these reflections, and 
doubtful of what he should do, Bruce was looking up- 
ward to the roof of the cabin in which he lay; and his eye 
was attracted by a spider, which, hanging at the end of a 
long thread of its own spinning, was endeavouring to 
swing itself from one beam in the roof to another, for the 
purpose of fixing the line on which it meant to stretch its 
web. The insect made the attempt again and again with- 

258 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

out success ; at length Bruce counted that it had tried to 
carry its point six times, and been as often unable to do so. 
It came into his head that he had himself fought just six 
battles against the English and their allies, and that the 
poor persevering spider was exactly in the same situation 
with himself, having made as many trials and been as 
often disappointed in what it aimed at. " Now," thought 
Bruce, "as I have no means of knowing what is best to be 
done, I will be guided by the luck which shall attend this 
spider. If the insect shall make another effort to fix its 
thread, and shall be successful, I will venture a seventh 
time to try my fortune in Scotland ; but if the spider shall 
fail, I will go to the wars in Palestine, and never return to 
my native country more." 

While Bruce was forming this resolution the spider 
made another exertion with all the force it could muster, 
and fairly succeeded in fastening its thread to the beam 
which it had so often in vain attempted to reach. Bruce 
seeing the success of the spider, resolved to try his own 
fortune ; and as he had never before gained a victory, so 
he never afterward sustained any considerable or de- 
cisive check or defeat. I have often met with people of 
the name of Bruce, so completely persuaded of the truth 
of this story, that they would not on any account kill a 
spider, because it was that insect which had shown the 
example of perseverance, and given a signal of good luck 
to their great namesake. 

Having determined to renew his efforts to obtain pos- 
session of Scotland, the Bruce removed himself and his 
followers from Rachrin to the island of Arran, which lies 
in the mouth of the Clyde. The King landed, and in- 
quired of the first woman he met what armed men were 
in the island. She returned for answer that there had 

Robert Bruce 


arrived there very lately a body of armed strangers, who 
had defeated an English governor of the castle, and were 
now amusing themselves with hunting about the island. 
The King, having caused himself to be guided to the 
woods which these strangers most frequented, there 
blew his horn repeatedly. Now, the chief of the stran- 
gers who had taken the castle was James Douglas, one 
of the best of Brace's friends, and he was accompanied 
by some of the bravest of that patriotic band. When he 
heard Robert Brace's horn, he knew the sound well, and 
cried out, that yonder was the King, he knew by his man- 
ner of blowing. So he and his companions hastened to 
meet King Robert. They could not help weeping when 
they considered their own forlorn condition, but they 
were stout-hearted men, and yet looked forward to freeing 
their country. 

The Bruce was now where the people were most likely 
to be attached to him. He continued to keep himself 
concealed in his own earldom of Carrick, and in the 
neighboring country of Galloway, until he should have 
matters ready for a general attack upon the English. He 
was obliged, in the meantime, to keep very few men with 
him, both for the sake of secrecy, and from the difficulty 
of finding provisions. 

Now, many of the people of Galloway were unfriendly 
to Bruce. They lived under the government of one 
MacDougal, related to the Lord of Lorn, who had de- 
feated Bruce. These Galloway men had heard that 
Bruce was in their country, having no more than sixty 
men with him; so they resolved to attack him by surprise, 
and for this purpose they got together and brought with 
them twc or three bloodhounds. At that time blood- 
hounds, or sleuthhounds, were used for the purpose of 

260 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

pursuing great criminals. The men of Galloway thought 
that if they missed taking Bruce, or killing him at the 
first onset, and if he should escape into the woods, they 
would find him out by means of these bloodhounds. 

The good King Robert Bruce, who was always watch- 
ful and vigilant, received some information of the inten- 
tion of the party to come upon him suddenly and by 
night. Accordingly, he quartered his little troop of 
sixty men on the side of a deep and swift-running river, 
that had very steep and rocky banks. There was but 
one ford by which this river could be crossed in that 
neighbourhood, and that ford was deep and narrow, so 
that two men could scarcely get through abreast; the 
ground on which they were to land, on the side where the 
King was, was steep, and the path which led upward 
from the water's edge to the top of the bank, extremely 
narrow and difficult. 

Bruce caused his men to lie down to take some sleep, at 
a place about half a mile distant from the river, while he 
himself, with two attendants, went down to watch the 
ford. He stood looking at the ford, and thinking how 
easily the enemy might be kept from passing there, pro- 
vided it was bravely defended, when he heard, always 
coming nearer and nearer, the baying of a hound. This 
was the bloodhound which was tracing the King's steps 
to the ford where he had crossed, and two hundred Gal- 
loway men were along with the animal, and guided by it. 
Bruce at first thought of going back to awaken his men; 
but then he reflected that it might be only some shep- 
herd's dog. "My men," said he, "are sorely tired; I 
will not disturb their sleep for the yelping of a cur, till I 
know something more of the matter." So he stood and 
listened; and by and by, as the cry of the hound came 

Robert Bruce 261 

nearer, he began to hear a trampling of horses, and the 
voices of men, and the ringing and clattering of armour, 
and then he was sure the enemy were coming to the 
river side. Then the King thought, " If I go back to give 
my men the alarm, these Galloway men will get through 
the ford without opposition; and that would be a pity, 
since it is a place so advantageous to make defence 
against them." So he looked again at the steep path, 
and the deep river, and he thought that they gave him so 
much advantage, that he himself could defend the pas- 
sage with his own hand, until his men came to assist him. 
He therefore sent his followers to waken his men, and 
remained alone by the river. 

The noise and trampling of the horses increased, and 
the moon being bright, Bruce beheld the glancing arms 
of two hundred men, on the opposite bank. The men of 
Galloway, on their part, saw but one solitary figure 
guarding the ford, and the foremost of them plunged into 
the river without minding him. But as they could only 
pass the ford one by one, the Bruce, who stood high above 
them on the bank where they were to land, killed the 
foremost man with a thrust of his long spear, and with a 
second thrust stabbed the horse, which fell down, kicking 
and plunging in his agonies, on the narrow path, and so 
prevented the others who were following from getting 
out of the river. Bruce had thus an opportunity of deal- 
ing his blows among them, while they could not strike at 
him. In the confusion, five or six of the enemy were 
slain, or, having been borne down with the current, were 
drowned. The rest were terrified, and drew back. 

But when the Galloway men looked again, and saw 
they were opposed by only one man, they themselves 
being so many, they cried out, that their honour would 

262 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

be lost forever if they did not force their way; and en- 
couraged each other, with loud cries, to plunge through 
and assault him. But by this time the King's soldiers 
came up to his assistance, and the Galloway men gave 
up their enterprise. 

About the time when the Bruce was yet at the head of 
but few men, Sir Aymer de Valence, who was Earl of 
Pembroke, together with Sir John of Lorn, came into 
Galloway, each of them being at the head of a large body 
of men. John of Lorn had a bloodhound with him, 
which it was said had formerly belonged to Robert Bruce 
himself; and having been fed by the King with his own 
hands, it became attached to him, and would follow his 
footsteps anywhere, as dogs are well known to trace their 
master's steps, whether they be bloodhounds or not. By 
means of this hound, John of Lorn thought he should 
certainly find out Bruce, and take revenge on him for the 
death of his relation Comyn. 

The King saw that he was followed by a large body, 
and being determined to escape from them, he made all the 
people who were with him disperse themselves different 
ways, thinking thus that the enemy must needs lose trace 
of him. He kept only one man along with him, and that 
was his own foster-brother, or the son of his nurse. When 
John of Lorn came to the place where Bruce's com- 
panions had dispersed themselves, the bloodhound, after it 
had snuffed up and down for a little, quitted the footsteps 
of all the other fugitives, and ran barking upon the track 
of two men out of the whole number. Then John of 
Lorn knew that one of these two must needs be King 
Robert. Accordingly, he commanded five of his men 
that were speedy of foot to chase after him, and either 
make him prisoner or slay him. The Highlanders 

Robert Bruce 263 

started off accordingly, and ran so fast, that they gained 
sight of Robert and his foster-brother. The King asked 
his companion what help he could give him, and his 
foster-brother answered he was ready to do his best. So 
these two turned on the five men of John of Lorn, and 
killed them all 

But by this time Bruce very much fatigued, and yet 
they dared not sit down to take any rest ; for whenever 
they stopped for an instant, they heard the cry of the 
bloodhound behind them, and knew by that, that their 
enemies were coming up fast after them. At length, they 
came to a wood, through which ran a small river. Then 
Bruce said to his foster-brother, " Let us wade down this 
stream for a great way, instead of going straight across, and 
so this unhappy hound will lose the scent; for if we were 
once clear of him, I should not be afraid of getting away 
from the pursuers." Accordingly, the King and his 
attendant walked a great way down the stream, taking 
care to keep their feet in the water, which could not retain 
any scent where they had stepped. Then they came 
ashore on the further side from the enemy, and went deep 
into the wood before they stopped to rest themselves. In 
the meanwhile, the hound led John of Lorn straight to 
the place where the King went into the water, but there 
the dog began to be puzzled, not knowing where to go 
next. So, John of Lorn, seeing the dog had lost track, 
gave up the chase, and returned to join with Aymer de 

But King Robert's adventures were not yet ended. 
It was now near night, and he went boldy into a farm- 
house, where he found the mistress, an old, true-hearted 
Scotswoman, sitting alone. Upon seeing a stranger enter 
she asked him who and what he was. The King an- 

264 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

swered that he was a traveller, who was journeying 
through the country. 

"All travellers," answered the good woman, "are 
welcome here, for the sake of one." 

"And who is that one," said the King, "for whose 
sake you make all welcome ?" 

"It is our rightful King, Robert the Bruce," answered 
the mistress, "and although he is now pursued and 
hunted after with hounds and horns, I hope to live to see 
him King over all Scotland." 

"Since you love him so well, dame," said the King, 
"know that you see him before you. I am Robert the 

"You!" said the good woman, in great surprise; "and 
wherefore are you thus alone ? — where are all your men ?" 

"I have none with me at this moment," answered 
Bruce, "and therefore I must travel alone." 

"But that shall not be," said the brave old dame, "for 
I have two stout sons, gallant and trusty men, who shall 
be your servants for life and death." 

So she brought her two sons, and though she well knew 
the dangers to which she exposed them, she made them 
swear fidelity to the King. 

Now, the loyal woman was getting everything ready 
for the King's supper, when suddenly there was a great 
trampling of horses heard round the house. They 
thought it must be some of the English, or John of Lorn's 
men, and the good wife called upon her sons to fight to 
the last for King Robert. But shortly after, they heard 
the voice of the good Lord James of Douglas, and of 
Edward Bruce, the King's brother, who had come with 
a hundred and fifty horsemen, according to the instruc- 
tions that the King had left with them at parting. 

Robert Bruce 265 

Robert the Bruce was right joyful to meet his brother, 
and his faithful friend Lord James; and had no sooner 
found himself once more at the head of such a consider- 
able body of followers, than he forgot hunger and weari- 
ness. There was nothing but mount and ride; and as 
(the Scots rushed suddenly into the village where the 
English were quartered, they easily dispersed and cut 
them to pieces. 

The consequence of these successes of King Robert 
was that soldiers came to join him on all sides, and that he 
obtained several victories over English commanders; 
until at length the English were afraid to venture into 
the open country, as formerly, unless when they could 
assemble themselves in considerable bodies. They 
thought it safer to lie still in the towns and castles which 
they had garrisoned. 

Edward I would have entered Scotland at the head of 
a large army, before he had left Bruce time to conquer 
back the country. But very fortunately for the Scots, 
that wise and skilful, though ambitious King, died when 
he was on the point of marching into Scotland. His son 
Edward II neglected the Scottish war, and thus lost the 
opportunity of defeating Bruce, when his force was small. 
But when Sir Philip Mowbray, the governor of Stirling, 
came to London, to tell the King, that Stirling, the last 
Scottish town of importance which remained in pos- 
session of the English, was to be surrendered if it were 
not relieved by force of arms before midsummer, then all 
the English nobles called out, it would be a sin and shame 
to permit the fair conquest which Edward I had made, 
to be forfeited to the Scots for want of fighting. 

King Edward II, therefore, assembled one of the great- 
est armies which a King of England ever commanded. 

266 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

There were troops brought from all his dominions, many 
brave soldiers from the French provinces, many Irish, 
many Welsh, and all the great English nobles and barons, 
with their followers. The number was not less than 
one hundred thousand men. 

King Robert the Bruce summoned all his nobles and 
barons to join him, when he heard of the great prepara- 
tions which the King of England was making. They 
were not so numerous as the English by many thousand 
men. In fact, his whole army did not very much exceed 
thirty thousand, and they were much worse armed than 
the wealthy Englishmen; but then, Robert was one of 
the most expert generals of the time; and the officers he 
had under him, were his brother Edward, his faithful 
follower the Douglas, and other brave and experienced 
leaders. His men had been accustomed to fight and 
gain victories under every disadvantage of situation and 

The King, on his part, studied how he might supply, 
by address and stratagem, what he wanted in numbers 
and strength. He knew the superiority of the English in 
their heavy-armed cavalry, and in their archers. Both 
these advantages he resolved to provide against. With 
this purpose, he led his army down into a plain near 
Stirling. The English army must needs pass through a 
boggy country, broken with water-courses, while the 
Scots occupied hard dry ground. He then caused all the 
ground upon the front of his line of battle, to be dug full 
of holes, about as deep as a man's knee. They were 
filled with light brushwood, and the turf was laid on the 
top, so that it appeared a plain field, while in reality it 
was as full of these pits as a honeycomb is of holes. He 
also, it is said, caused steel spikes, called calthrops, to be 

Robert Bruce 267 

scattered up and down in the plain, where the English 
cavalry were most likely to advance, trusting in that man- 
ner to lame and destroy their horses. 

When the Scottish army was drawn up, the line 
stretched north and south. On the south, it was ter- 
minated by the banks of the brook called Eannockburn, 
which are so rocky, that no troops could attack them there. 
On the left, the Scottish line extended near to the town 
of Stirling. Bruce reviewed his troops very carefully. 
He then spoke to the soldiers, and expressed his deter- 
mination to gain the victory, or to lose his life on the 
field of battle. He desired that all those who did not pro- 
pose to fight to the last, should leave the field before the 
battle began, and that none should remain except those 
who were determined to take the issue of victory or death, 
as God should send it. When the main body of his army 
was thus placed in order, the King dispatched James of 
Douglas, and Sir Robert Keith, the Mareschal of the 
Scottish army, in order that they might survey the 
English force. They returned with information, that 
the approach of that vast host was one of the most 
beautiful and terrible sights which could be seen — that 
the whole country seemed covered with men-at-arms on 
horse and foot. 

It was upon the twenty-third of June, 13 14, the King 
of Scotland heard the news, that the English army was 
approaching Stirling. The van now came in sight, and a 
number of their bravest knights drew near to see what 
the Scots were doing. They saw King Robert dressed 
in his armour, and distinguished by a gold crown, which 
he wore over his helmet. He was not mounted on his 
great war-horse, because he did not expect to fight that 
evening. But he rode on a little pony up and down the 

268 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

ranks of his army, putting his men in order, and carried 
in his hand a sort of battle-axe made of steel. When the 
King saw the English horsemen draw near, he advanced 
a little before his own men, that he might look at them 
more nearly. 

There was a knight among the English, called Sir 
Henry de Bohun, who thought this would be a good 
opportunity to gain great fame to himself, and put an end 
to the war, by killing King Robert. The King being 
poorly mounted, and having no lance, Bohun galloped 
on him suddenly and furiously, thinking, with his long 
spear, and his tall, powerful horse, easily to bear him 
down to the ground. King Robert saw him, and per- 
mitted him to come very near, then suddenly turned his 
pony a little to one side, so that Sir Henry missed him 
with the lance-point, and was in the act of being carried 
past him by the career of his horse. But as he passed, 
King Robert rose up in his stirrups, and struck Sir Henry 
on the head with his battle-axe so terrible a blow, that it 
broke to pieces his iron helmet as if it had been a nut-shell, 
and hurled him from his saddle. He was dead before 
he reached the ground. This gallant action was blamed 
by the Scottish leaders, who thought Bruce ought not to 
have exposed himself to so much danger, when the safety 
of the whole army depended on him. The King only 
kept looking at his weapon, which was injured by the 
force of the blow, and said, "I have broken my good 
battle-axe. " 

The next morning the English King ordered his men 
to begin the battle. The archers then bent their bows, 
and began to shoot so closely together, that the arrows 
fell like flakes of snow on a Christmas day. They killed 
many of the Scots, and might have decided the victory; 

Robert Bruce 269 

but Bruce was prepared for them. A body of men-at- 
arms, well mounted, rode at full gallop among them, 
and as the archers had no weapons save their bows and 
arrows, which they could not use when they were attacked 
hand to hand, they were cut down in great numbers by 
the Scottish horsemen, and thrown into total confusion. 
The fine English cavalry then advanced to support their 
archers. But coming over the ground which was dug 
full of pits the horses fell into these holes and the riders 
lay tumbling about, without any means of defence, and 
unable to rise, from the weight of their armour. 

While the battle was obstinately maintained on both 
sides, an event happened which decided the victory. 
The servants and attendants on the Scottish camp 
had been sent behind the army to a place afterward 
called the Gillies' hill. But when they saw that their 
masters were likely to gain the day, they rushed from 
their place of concealment with such weapons as they 
could get, that they might have their share in the victory 
and in the spoil. The English, seeing them come sud- 
denly over the hill, mistook this disorderly rabble for a 
new army coming up to sustain the Scots, and, losing all 
heart, began to shift every man for himself. Edward 
himself left the field as fast as he could ride. 

The English, after this great defeat, were no longer 
in a condition to support their pretensions to be masters 
of Scotland, or to continue to send armies into that coun- 
try to overcome it. On the contrary, they became for 
a time scarce able to defend their own frontiers against 
King Robert and his soldiers. 

Thus did Robert Bruce arise from the condition of an 
exile, hunted with bloodhounds like a stag or beast of 
prey, to the rank of an independent sovereign, universally 

270 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

acknowledged to be one of the wisest and bravest Kings 
who then lived. The nation of Scotland was also raised 
once more from the situation of a distressed and conquered 
province to that of a free and independent state, governed 
by its own laws. 

Robert Bruce continued to reign gloriously for several 
years, and the Scots seemed, during his government, to 
have acquired a complete superiority over their neighbours. 
But then we must remember, that Edward II who then 
reigned in England, was a foolish prince, and listened to 
bad counsels; so that it is no wonder that he was beaten 
by so wise and experienced a general as Robert Bruce, 
who had fought his way to the crown through so many 
disasters, and acquired in consequence so much renown. 

In the last year of Robert the Bruce's reign, he became 
extremely sickly and infirm, chiefly owing to a disorder 
called the leprosy, which he had caught during the hard- 
ships and misfortunes of his youth, when he was so fre- 
quently obliged to hide himself in woods and morasses, 
without a roof to shelter him. He lived at a castle called 
Cardross, on the beautiful banks of the river Clyde, near 
to where it joins the sea; and his chief amusement was 
to go upon the river, and down to the sea in a ship, which 
he kept for his pleasure. He was no longer able to sit 
upon his war-horse, or to lead his army to the field. 

While Bruce was in this feeble state, Edward II, King 
of England, died, and was succeeded by his son Edward 
III. He turned out afterward to be one of the wisest 
and bravest Kings whom England ever had ; but when he 
first mounted the throne he was very young. The war 
between the English and the Scots still lasted at the time. 

But finally a peace was concluded with Robert Bruce, 
on terms highly honourable to Scotland; for the English 

Robert Bruce 271 

King renounced all pretensions to the sovereignty of the 

Good King Robert did not long survive this joyful 
event. He was not aged more than four-and-fifty years, 
but his bad health was caused by the hardships which 
he sustained during his youth, and at length he became 
very ill. Finding that he could not recover, he assembled 
round his bedside the nobles and counsellors in whom 
he most trusted. He told them, that now, being on his 
death-bed, he sorely repented all his misdeeds, and partic- 
ularly, that he had, in his passion, killed Comyn with 
his own hand, in the church and before the altar. He 
said that if he had lived, he had intended to go to Jerusalem 
to make war upon the Saracens who held the Holy 
Land, as some expiation for the evil deeds he had done. 
But since he was about to die, he requested of his dearest 
friend and bravest warrior, and that was the good 
Lord James Douglas, that he should carry his heart to 
the Holy Land. Douglas wept bitterly as he accepted 
this office — the last mark of the Bruce's confidence and 

The King soon afterward expired; and his heart 
was taken out from his body and embalmed, that is, pre- 
pared with spices and perfumes, that it might remain 
a long time fresh and uncorrupted. Then the Douglas 
caused a case of silver to be made, into which he put the 
Bruce's heart, and wore it around his neck, by a string of 
silk and gold. And he set forward for the Holy Land, 
with a gallant train of the bravest men in Scotland, who, 
to show their value of and sorrow for their brave King 
Robert Bruce, resolved to attend his heart to the city of 
Jerusalem. In going to Palestine Douglas landed in 
Spain, where the Saracen King, or Sultan of Granada, 

272 Heroes Every Child Should Knou 

called Osmyn, was invading the realms of Alphonso, the 
Spanish King of Castile. King Alphonso received 
Douglas with great honour and distinction, and easily 
persuaded the Scottish Earl that he would do good service 
to the Christian cause, by assisting him to drive back 
the Saracens of Granada before proceeding on his voyage 
to Jerusalem. Lord Douglas and his followers went 
accordingly to a great battle against Osmyn, and had 
little difficulty in defeating the Saracens. But being 
ignorant of the mode of fighting among the cavalry of the 
East, the Scots pursued the chase too far, and the Moors, 
when they saw them scattered and separated from each 
other, turned suddenly back, with a loud cry of Allah 
illah Allah, which is their shout of battle, and surrounded 
such of the Scottish knights and squires as were dispersed 
from each other. 

In this new skirmish, Douglas saw Sir William St. 
Clair of Roslyn fighting desperately, surrounded by 
many Moors, who were having at him with their sabres. 
"Yonder worthy knight will be slain," Douglas said, 
"unless he have instant help." With that he galloped 
to his rescue, but presently was himself also surrounded 
by many Moors. When he found the enemy press so 
thick round him, as to leave him no chance of escaping, 
the Earl took from his neck the Bruce 's heart, and 
speaking to it, as he would have done to the King, had 
he been alive — "Pass first in fight," he said, "as thou 
wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow thee, or die. " 

He then threw the King's heart among the enemy, 
and rushing forward to the place where it fell, was there 
slain. His body was found lying above the silver case, 
as if it had been his last object to defend the Bruce's 

Robert Bruce 273 

Such of the Scottish knights as remained alive returned 
to their own country. They brought back the heart of 
the Bruce, and the bones of the good Lord James. The 
Bruce's heart was buried below the high altar in Melrose 
Abbey. As for his body, it was laid in the sepulchre in 
the midst of the church of Dunfermline, under a marble 
stone. The church afterward becoming ruinous, and 
the roof falling down with age, the monument was broken 
to pieces, and nobody could tell where it stood. But 
when they were repairing the church at Dunfermline, 
and removing the rubbish, lo! they found fragments of 
the marble tomb of Robert Bruce. Then they began 
*:o dig farther, thinking to discover the body of this cele- 
brated monarch; and at length they came to the skeleton 
of a tall man, and they knew it must be that of King 
Robert, both as he was known to have been buried in a 
winding sheet of cloth of gold, of which many fragments 
were found about this skeleton, and also because the 
breastbone appeared to have been sawed through, in 
order to take the heart. A new tomb was prepared 
into which the bones were laid with profound respect. 



ON THE 4th of March, 1797, Washington went to 
the inauguration of his successor as President 
of the United States. The Federal Government 
was sitting in Philadelphia at that time and Congress 
held sessions in the courthouse on the corner of Sixth 
and Chestnut Streets. 

At the appointed hour Washington entered the hall 
followed by John Adams, who was to take the oath of 
office. When they were seated Washington arose and 
introduced Mr. Adams to the audience, and then pro- 
ceeded to read in a firm clear voice his brief valedictory 
— not his great "Farewell Address," for that had already 
been published. A lady who sat on "the front bench," 
"immediately in front" of Washington describes the 
scene in these words: 

"There was a narrow passage from the door of en- 
trance to the room. General Washington stopped at the 
end to let Mr. Adams pass to the chair. The latter al- 
ways wore a full suit of bright drab, with loose cuffs to 
his coat. General Washington's dress was a full suit of 
black. His military hat had the black cockade. There 
stood the 'Father of his Country' acknowledged by nations 
the first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his 
countrymen. No marshals with gold-coloured scarfs 
attended him; there was no cheering, no noise; the most 

George Washington 275 

profound silence greeted him as if the great assembly- 
desired to hear him breathe. Mr. Adams covered his 
face with both his hands ; the sleeves of his coat and his 
hands were covered with tears. Every now and then 
there was a suppressed sob. I cannot describe Washing- 
ton's appearance as I felt it — perfectly composed and 
self-possessed till the close of his address. Then when 
strong, nervous sobs broke loose, when tears covered the 
faces, then the great man was shaken. I never took my 
eyes from his face. Large drops came from his eyes. 
He looked as if his heart was with them, and would be to 
the end." 

On Washington's retirement from the Presidency one 
of his first employments was to arrange his papers and 
letters. Then on returning to his home the venerable 
master found many things to repair. His landed estate 
comprised eight thousand acres, and was divided into 
farms, with enclosures and farm-buildings. And now 
with body and mind alike sound and vigorous, 
he bent his energies to directing the improve- 
ments that marked his last days at Mount Vernon. 

In his earlier as well as in later life, his tour of the farms 
would average from eight to twelve or fourteen miles a 
day. He rode upon his farms entirely unattended, 
opening his gates, pulling down and putting up his fences 
as he passed, visiting his labourers at their work, inspect- 
ing all the operations of his extensive establishment with 
a careful eye, directing useful improvements and super- 
intending them in their progress. 

He usually rode at a moderate pace in passing through 
his fields. But when behind time this most punctual of 
men would display the horsemanship of his earlier days, 
and a hard gallop would bring him up to time so that the 

276 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

sound of his horse's hoofs and the first dinner bell 
would be heard together at a quarter before three. 

A story is told that one day an elderly stranger meeting 
a Revolutionary worthy out hunting, a long-tried and 
valued friend of the chief, accosted him, and asked whether 
Washington was to be found at the mansion house, or 
whether he was off riding over his estate. The friend 
answered that he was visiting his farms, and directed the 
stranger the road to take, adding, "You will meet, sir, 
with an old gentleman riding alone in plain drab clothes, 
a broad-brimmed white hat, a hickory switch in his hand, 
and carrying an umbrella with a long staff, which is at- 
tached to his saddle-bow — that person, sir, is General 

Precisely at a quarter before three the industrious 
farmer returned, dressed, and dined at three o'clock. 
At this meal he ate heartily, but was not particular in 
his diet with the exception of fish, of which he was ex- 
cessively fond. Touching his liking for fish, and illus- 
trative of his practical economy and abhorrence of waste 
and extravagance, an anecdote is told of the time he was 
President and living in Philadelphia. It happened that 
a single shad had been caught in the Delaware, and 
brought to the city market. His steward, Sam Fraunces, 
pounced upon the fish with the speed of an osprey, de- 
lighted that he had secured a delicacy agreeable to the 
palate of his chief, and careless of the expense, for which 
the President had often rebuked him. 

When the fish was served Washington suspected the 
steward had forgotten his order about expenditure for the 
table and said to Fraunces, who stood at his post at the 
sideboard, "What fish is this?" ''A shad, sir, a very 
fine shad," the steward answered. "I know your excel- 

George Washington 277 

lency is particularly fond of this kind of fish, and was so 
fortunate as to procure this one — the only one in market, 
sir, the first of the season." "The price, sir, the price?" 
asked Washington sternly. "Three — three dollars," stam- 
mered the conscience-stricken steward. "Take it away," 
thundered the chief, "take it away, sir! It shall never be 
said that my table set such an example of luxury and 
extravagance." Poor Fraunces tremblingly did as he 
was told, and the first shad of the season was carried 
away untouched to be speedily discussed in the servants' 
dining room. 

Although the Farmer of Mount Vernon was much 
retired from the business world, he was by no means 
inattentive to the progress of public affairs. When the 
post bag arrived, he would select his letters and lay them 
aside for reading in the seclusion of his library. The 
newspapers he would peruse while taking his single 
cup of tea (his only supper) and read aloud passages 
of peculiar interest, remarking the matter as he went 
along. He read with distinctness and precision. These 
evenings with his family always ended at precisely nine 
o'clock, when he bade everyone good night and retired 
to rest, to rise again at four and renew the same routine 
of labour and enjoyment. 

Washington's last days, like those that preceded them 
in the course of a long and well-spent life, were devoted 
to constant and careful employment. His correspon- 
dence both at home and abroad was immense. Yet no 
letter was unanswered. One of the best-bred men of 
his time, Washington deemed it a grave offence against 
the rules of good manners and propriety to leave letters 
unanswered. He wrote with great facility, and it would 
be a difficult matter to find another who had written so 

278 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

much, who had written so well. General Harry Lee 
once observed to him, " We are amazed, sir, at the vast 
amount of work you get through." Washington ans- 
wered, " Sir, I rise at four o'clock, and a great deal of 
my work is done while others sleep. " 

He was the most punctual of men, as we said. To 
this admirable quality of rising at four and retiring to 
rest at nine at all seasons, this great man owed his ability 
to accomplish mighty labours during his long and illus- 
trious life. He was punctual in everything and made 
everyone about him punctual. So careful a man 
delighted in always having about him a good timekeeper. 
In Philadelphia, the first President regularly walked 
up to his watchmaker's to compare his watch with the 
regulator. At Mount Vernon the active yet punctual 
farmer invariably consulted the dial when returning 
from his morning ride, and before entering his house. 

The affairs of the household took order from the 
master's accurate and methodical arrangement of time. 
Even the fisherman on the river watched for the cook's 
signal when to pull in shore and deliver his catch in time 
for dinner. 

Among the picturesque objects on the Potomac, to 
be seen from the eastern portion of the mansion house, 
was the light canoe of the house's fisher. Father 
Jack was an African, an hundred years of age, and 
although enfeebled in body by weight of years, his mind 
possessed uncommon vigour. And he would tell of days 
long past when, under African suns, he was made 
captive, and of the terrible battle in which his royal 
sire was slain, the village burned, and himself sent to 
the slave ship. 

Father Jack had in a considerable degree a leading 

George Washington 279 

quality of his race — somnolency. Many an hour could 
the family of Washington see the canoe fastened to a 
stake, with the old fisherman bent nearly double enjoy- 
ing a nap, which was only disturbed by the jerking of 
the white perch caught on his hook. But, as we just 
said, the domestic duties of Mount Vernon were gov- 
erned by clock time, and the slumbers of fisher Jack 
might occasion inconvenience, for the cook required the 
fish at a certain hour, so that they might be served 
smoking hot precisely at three. At times he would 
go to the river bank and make the accustomed signals, 
and meet with no response. The old fisherman would 
be quietly reposing in his canoe, rocked by the gentle 
undulations of the stream, and dreaming, no doubt, of 
events "long time ago." The importunate master of 
the kitchen, grown ferocious by delay, would now rush 
up and down the water's edge, and, by dint of loud 
shouting, cause the canoe to turn its prow to the shore. 
Father Jack, indignant at its being supposed he was 
asleep at his post, would rate those present on his land- 
ing, "What you all meek such a debil of a noise for, 
hey? I wa'nt sleep, only noddin'. " 

The establishment of Mount Vernon employed a 
perfect army of domestics ; yet to each one was assigned 
special duties, and from each one strict performance 
was required. There was no confusion where there was 
order, and the affairs of this estate, embracing thousands 
of acres and hundreds of dependents, were conducted 
with as much ease, method and regularity as the affairs 
of a homestead of average size. 

Mrs. Washington was an accomplished house-wife of 
the olden time, and she gave constant attention to all 
matters of her household, and by her skill and manage- 

280 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

ment greatly contributed to the comfort and entertain- 
ment of the guests who enjoyed the hospitality of 
her home. 

The best charities of life were gathered round Wash- 
ington in the last days at Mount Vernon. The love 
and veneration of a whole people for his illustrious ser- 
vices, his generous and untiring labours in the cause of 
public utility; his kindly demeanour to his family circle, 
his friends, and numerous dependents ; his courteous and 
cordial hospitality to his guests, many of them strangers 
from far distant lands ; these charities, all of which sprang 
from the heart, were the ornament of his declining years 
and granted the most sublime scene in nature, when 
human greatness reposes upon human happiness. 

On the morning of the 17th of December, 1799, the 
General was engaged in making some improvements 
in the front of Mount Vernon. As was usual with him, 
he carried his own compass, noted his observations, and 
marked out the ground. The day became rainy, with 
sleet, and the improver remained so long exposed to the 
inclemency of the weather as to be considerably wetted 
before his return to the house. About one o'clock he 
was seized with chilliness and nausea, but having changed 
his clothes he sat down to his indoor work. At night, 
on joining his family circle, he complained of a slight 
indisposition. Upon the night of the following day, 
having borne acute suffering with composure and 
fortitude, he died. 

In person Washington was unique. He looked like 
no one else. To a stature lofty and commanding he 
united a form of the manliest proportions, and a dignifed, 
graceful, and imposing carriage. In the prime of life 
he stood six feet, two inches. From the period of the 

George Washington 281 

Revolution there was an evident bending in his frame 
so passing straight before, but the stoop came from 
the cares and toils of that arduous contest rather than 
from years. For his step was firm, his appearance 
noble and impressive long after the time when the phys- 
ical properties of men are supposed to wane. 

A majestic height was met by corresponding breadth 
and firmness. His whole person was so cast in nature's 
finest mould as to resemble an ancient statue, all of 
whose parts unite to the perfection of the whole. But 
with all its development of muscular power, Washington's 
form had no look of bulkiness, and so harmonious were 
its proportions that he did not appear so tall as his por- 
traits have represented. He was rather spare than full 
during his whole life. 

The strength of Washington's arm was shown on several 
occasions. He threw a stone from the bed of the stream 
to the top of the Natural Bridge, Virginia, and another 
stone across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg. The 
stone was said to be a piece of slate about the size of a 
dollar with which he spanned the bold river, and it took 
the ground at least thirty yards on the other side. Many 
have since tried this feat, but none have cleared the 

In 1772 some young men were contending at Mount 
Vernon in the exercise of pitching the bar. The Colonel 
looked on for a time, then grasping the missile in his mas- 
ter hand he whirled the iron through the air and it fell 
far beyond any of its former limits. "You see, young 
gentlemen," said the chief with a smile, "that my arm 
yet retains some portion of my early vigour." He was 
then in his fortieth year and probably in the fullness of his 
physical powers. Those powers became rather mellowed 

282 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

than decayed by time, for " his age was like lusty winter, 
frosty yet kindly," and up to his sixty-eighth year he 
mounted a horse with surprising agility and rode with 
ease and grace. Rickets, the celebrated equestrian, 
used to say, "I delight to see the General ride and make it 
a point to fall in with him when I hear he is out on horse- 
back — his seat is so firm, his management so easy and 
graceful that I who am an instructor in horsemanship 
would go to him and learn to ride." 

In his later days, the General, desirous of riding 
pleasantly, procured from the North two horses of a 
breed for bearing the saddle. They were well to look 
at, and pleasantly gaited under the saddle, but also 
scary and therefore unfitted for the service of one who 
liked to ride quietly on his farm, occasionally dismounting 
and walking in his fields to inspect improvements. From 
one of these horses the General sustained a fall — probably 
the only fall he ever had from a horse in his life. It was 
upon a November evening, and he was returning from 
Alexandria to Mount Vernon with three friends and a 
groom. Having halted a few moments he dismounted, 
and upon rising in his stirrup again, the horse, alarmed 
at the glare from a fire near the road-side, sprang from 
under his rider who came heavily to the ground. His 
friends rushed to give him assistance, thinking him 
hurt. But the vigorous old man was upon his feet 
again, brushing the dust from his clothes, and after 
thanking those who came to his aid said that he had had 
a very complete tumble, and that it was owing to a 
cause no horseman could well avoid or control — that he 
was only poised in his stirrup, and had not yet gained 
his saddle when the scary animal sprang from under him. 

Bred in the vigorous school of frontier warfare, "the 

George Washington 283 

earth for his bed, his canopy the heavens," Washington 
excelled the hunter and woodsman in their athletic 
habits and in those trials of manhood which filled the 
hardy days of his early life. He was amazingly swift of 
foot, and could climb steep mountains seemingly without 
effort. Indeed in all the tests of his great physical powers 
he appeared to make little effort. When he overthrew 
the strong man of Virginia in wrestling, upon a day when 
many of the finest athletes were engaged in the contest, 
he had retired to the shade of a tree intent upon the read- 
ing of a book. It was only after the champion of the 
games strode through the ring calling for nobler antago- 
nists, and taunting the reader with the fear that he would 
be thrown, that Washington closed his book. Without 
taking off his coat he calmly observed that fear did not 
enter his make-up ; then grappling with the champion he 
hurled him to the ground. "In Washington's lion-like 
grasp," said the vanquished wrestler, "I became power- 
less, and went down with a force that seemed to jar the 
very marrow in my bones." The victor, regardless of 
shouts at his success, leisurely retired to his shade, and 
again took up his book. 

Washington's powers were chiefly in his limbs. His 
frame was of equal breadth from the shoulders to the 
hips. His chest was not prominent but rather hollowed 
in the centre. He never entirely recovered from a pul- 
monary affection from which he suffered in early life. 
His frame showed an extraordinary development of bone 
and muscle; his joints were large, as were his feet; and 
could a cast of his hand have been preserved, it would be 
ascribed to a being of a fabulous age. Lafayette said, 
"I never saw any human being with so large a hand sls 
the General's." 

284 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Of the awe and reverence which the presence of Wash- 
ington inspired we have many records. "I stood," says 
one writer, "before the door of the Hall of Congress in 
Philadelphia when the carriage of the President drew up. 
It was a white coach, or rather of a light cream colour, 
painted on the panels with beautiful groups representing 
the four seasons. As Washington alighted and, ascend- 
ing the steps, paused on the platform, he was preceded 
by two gentleman bearing large white wands, who kept 
back the eager crowd that pressed on every side. At 
that moment I stood so near I might have touched his 
clothes; but I should as soon have thought of touching 
an electric battery. I was penetrated with deepest awe. 
Nor was this the feeling of the school-boy I then was. It 
pervaded, I believe, every human being that approached 
Washington; and I have been told that even in his social 
hours, this feeling in those who shared them never suf- 
fered intermission. I saw him a hundred times after- 
ward but never with any other than the same feeling. 
The Almighty, who raised up for our hour of need a man 
so peculiarly prepared for its whole dread responsibility, 
seems to have put a stamp of sacredness upon his in- 
strument. The first sight of the man struck the eye with 
involuntary homage and prepared everything around him 
to obey. 

"At the time I speak of he stood in profound silence 
and had the statue-like air which mental greatness alone 
can bestow. As he turned to enter the building, and was 
ascending the staircase to the Congressional hall, I 
glided along unseen, almost under the cover of the skirts 
of his dress, and entered into the lobby of the House 
which was in session to receive him. 

"At Washington's entrance there was a most pro- 

George Washington 285 

found silence. House, lobbies, gallery, all were wrapped 
in deepest attention. And the souls of the entire assem- 
blage seemed peering from their eyes as the noble figure 
deliberately and unaffectedly advanced up the broad aisle 
of the hall between ranks of standing senators and mem- 
bers, and slowly ascended the steps leading to the 
speaker's chair. 

"The President having seated himself remained in 
silence, and the members took their seats, waiting for the 
speech. No house of worship was ever more profoundly 
still than that large and crowded chamber. 

"Washington was dressed precisely as Stuart has 
painted him in full-length portrait — in a full suit of the 
richest black velvet, with diamond knee-buckles and 
square silver buckles set upon shoes japanned with most 
scrupulous neatness; black silk stockings, his shirt 
ruffled at the breast and waist, a light dress sword, his 
hair profusely powdered, fully dressed, so as to project 
at the sides, and gathered behind in a silk bag ornamented 
with a large rose of black ribbon. He held his cocked 
hat, which had a large black cockade on one side of it, in 
his hand, as he advanced toward the chair, and when 
seated, laid it on the table. 

"At length thrusting his hand within the side of his 
coat, he drew forth a roll of manuscript which he opened, 
and rising read in a rich, deep, full, sonorous voice his 
opening address to Congress. His enunciation was 
deliberate, justly emphasised, very distinct, and accom- 
panied with an air of deep solemnity as being the utter- 
ance of a mind conscious of the whole responsibility of its 
position, but not oppressed by it. There was ever about 
the man something which impressed one with the con- 
viction that he was exactly and fully equal to what he had 

286 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

to do. He was never hurried; never negligent; but 
seemed ever prepared for the occasion, be it what it 
might. In his study, in his parlour, at a levee, before 
Congress, at the head of the army, he seemed ever 
to be just what the situation required. He possessed, 
in a degree never equalled by any human being I 
ever saw, the strongest, most ever-present sense of pro- 

In the early part of Washington's administration, 
great complaints were made by political opponents of the 
aristocratic and royal demeanour of the President. Par- 
ticularly, these complaints were about the manner of 
his receiving visitors. In a letter Washington gave ac- 
count of the origin of his levees: "Before the custom was 
established," he wrote, " which now accomodates foreign 
characters, strangers and others, who, from motives of 
curiosity, respect for the chief magistrate, or other cause, 
are induced to call upon me, I was unable to attend to 
any business whatever; for gentlemen, consulting their 
own convenience rather than mine, were calling after the 
time I rose from breakfast, and often before, until I sat 
down to dinner. This, as I resolved not to neglect my 
public duties, reduced me to the choice of one of these 
alternatives: either to refuse visits altogether, or to ap- 
propiate a time for the reception of them. . . . To 
please everybody was impossible. I therefore, adopted 
that line of conduct which combined public advantage 
with private convenience. . . . These visits are op- 
tional, they are made without invitation; between the 
hours of three and four every Tuesday I am prepared to 
receive them. Gentlemen, often in great numbers, come 
and go, chat with each other, and act as they please. A 
porter shows them into the room, and they retire from it 

George Washington 287 

when they choose, without ceremony. At their first 
entrance they salute me, and I them, and as many as I 
can I talk to." 

An English gentleman after visiting President Washing- 
ton wrote, "There was a commanding air in his ap- 
pearance which excited respect and forbade too great a 
freedom toward him, independently of that species of 
awe which is always felt in the moral influence 
of a great character. In every movement, too, 
there was a polite gracefulness equal to any met with 
in the most polished individuals of Europe, and his 
smile was extraordinarily attractive. ... It 
struck me no man could be better formed for command. 
A stature of six feet, a robust but well-proportioned frame 
calculated to stand fatigue, without that heaviness which 
generally attends great muscular strength and abates 
active exertion, displayed bodily power of no mean stand- 
ard. A light eye and full — the very eye of genius and 
reflection. His nose appeared thick, and though it 
befitted his other features was too coarsely and strongly 
formed to be the handsomest of its class. His mouth 
was like no other I ever saw : the lips firm, and the under- 
jaw seeming to grasp the upper with force, as if its 
muscles were in full action when he sat still." 

Such Washington appeared to those who saw and knew 
him. Such he remains to our vision. His memory is 
held by us in undying honour. Not only his memory 
alone but also the memory of his associates in the struggle 
for American Independence. Homage we should have 
in our hearts for those patriots and heroes and sages who 
with humble means raised their native land — now our 
native land — from the depths of dependence, and made 
it a free nation. And especially for Washington, who 

288 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

presided over the nation's course at the beginning of the 
great experiment in self-government and, after an unex- 
ampled career in the service of freedom and our human- 
kind, with no dimming of august fame, died calmly at 
Mount Vernon — the Father of his Country. 


Robert E. Lee 
a boy's impressions 

THE first vivid recollection I have of my father is 
his arrival in Arlington, after his return from 
the Mexican War. I can remember some events 
of which he seemed a part, when we lived at Fort 
Hamilton, New York, about 1846, but they are more 
like dreams, very indistinct and disconnected — naturally 
so, for I was at that time about three years old. But 
the day of his return to Arlington, after an absence of 
more than two years, I have always remembered. I had 
a frock or blouse of some light wash material, probably 
cotton, a blue ground dotted over with white diamond 
figures. Of this I was very proud, and wanted to wear 
it on this important occasion. Eliza, my "mammy," 
objecting, we had a contest and I won. Clothed in this, 
my very best, and with my hair freshly curled in long 
golden ringlets, I went down into the large hall where 
the whole household was assembled, eagerly greeting 
my father, who had just arrived on horseback from 
Washington, having missed in some way the carriage 
which had been sent for him. 

There was visiting us at this time Mrs. Lippitt, a friend 
of my mother's, with her little boy, Armistead, about my 
age and size, also with long curls. Whether he wore 
as handsome a suit as mine I cannot remember, but he 
and I were left together in the background, feeling rathe? - 

290 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

frightened and awed. After a moment's greeting to 
those surrounding him, my father pushed through the 
crowd, exclaiming: 

"Where is my little boy?" 

He then took up in his arms and kissed — not me y 
his own child, in his best frock with clean face and well- 
arranged curls — but my little playmate, Armistead. 
I remember nothing more of any circumstances connected 
with that time, save that I was shocked and humiliated. 
I have no doubt that he was at once informed of his mis- 
take and made ample amends to me. 

A letter from my father to his brother, Captain S. S f 
Lee, United States Navy, dated "Arlington, June 30, 
1848," tells of his coming home: 

"Here I am once again, my dear Smith, perfectly sur- 
rounded by Mary and her precious children, who seem 
to devote themselves to staring at the furrows in my face 
and the white hairs in my head. It is not surprising that 
I am hardly recognisable to some of the young eyes 
around me and perfectly unknown to the youngest. But 
some of the older ones gaze with astonishment and wonder 
at me, and seem at a loss to reconcile what they see and 
what was pictured in their imaginations. I find them, 
too, much grown, and all well, and I have much cause for 
thankfulness, and gratitude to that good God who has 
once more united us. " 

My next recollection of my father is in Baltimore, 
while we were on a visit to his sister, Mrs. Marshall, 
the wife of Judge Marshall. I remember being down 
on the wharves, where my father had taken me to see 
the landing of a mustang pony which he had gotten for 
me in Mexico, and which had been shipped from Vera 
Cruz to Baltimore in a sailing vessel. I was all eyes 
for the pony, and a very miserable, sad-looking object 

Robert E. Lee 291 

he was. From his long voyage, cramped quarters, and 
unavoidable lack of grooming, he was rather a disap- 
pointment to me, but I soon got over all that. As I grew 
older, and was able to ride and appreciate him, he became 
the joy and pride of my life. I was taught to ride on him 
by Jim Connally, the faithful Irish servant of my father, 
who had been with him in Mexico. Jim used often to 
tell me, in his quizzical way, that he and "Santa Anna" 
(the pony's name) were the first men on the walls of 
Chepultepec. This pony was pure white, five years 
old, and about fourteen hands high. For his inches, he 
was as good a horse as I ever have seen. While we 
lived in Baltimore, he and "Grace Darling," my father's 
favorite mare, were members of our family. 

Grace Darling was a chestnut of fine size and of great 
power, which he had bought in Texas on his way out to 
Mexico, her owner having died on the march out. She 
was with him during the entire campaign, and was shot 
seven times; at least, as a little fellow I used to brag 
about that number of bullets being in her, and since I 
could point out the scars of each one, I presume it was 
so. My father was very much attached to and proud 
of her, always petting her and talking to her in a loving 
way, when he rode her or went to see her in her stall. 
Of her he wrote on his return home: 

"I only arrived yesterday, after a long journey up the 
Mississippi, which route I was induced to take, for the 
better accommodation of my horse, as I wished to spare 
her as much annoyance and fatigue as possible, she 
already having undergone so much suffering in my ser- 
vice. I landed her at Wheeling and left her to come over 
with Jim." 

Santa Anna was found lying cold and dead in the park 

292 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

of Arlington one morning in the winter of '6o-'6ic 
Grace Darling was taken in the spring of '62 from the 
White House* by some Federal quartermaster, when 
McClellan occupied that place as his base of supplies 
during his attack on Richmond. When we lived in 
Baltimore, I was greatly struck one day by hearing two 
ladies who were visiting us saying : 

"Everybody and everything — his family, his friends, 
his horse, and his dog — loves Colonel Lee. " 

The dog referred to was a black-and-tan terrier named 
"Spec," very bright and intelligent and really a member 
of the family, respected and beloved by ourselves and 
well known to all who knew us. My father picked up 
its mother in the "Narrows" while crossing from Fort 
Hamilton to the fortifications opposite on Staten Island. 
She had doubtless fallen overboard from some passing 
vessel and had drifted out of sight before her absence 
had been discovered. He rescued her and took her 
home, where she was welcomed by his children and made 
much of. She was a handsome little thing, with cropped 
ears and a short tail. My father named her "Dart." 
She was a fine ratter, and with the assistance of a Maltese 
cat, also a member of the family, the many rats which 
infested the house and stables were driven away or des- 
troyed. She and the cat were fed out of the same plate, 
but Dart was not allowed to begin the meal until the 
cat had finished. 

Spec was born at Fort Hamilton, and was the joy of 
us children, our pet and companion. My father would 
not allow his tail and ears to be cropped. When he 
grew up, he accompanied us everywhere and was in the 

* My brother's place on the Pamunkey River, where the mare had 
been sent for safe keeping. 

Robert E. Lee 293 

habit of going into church with the family. As some 
of the little ones allowed their devotions to be disturbed 
by Spec's presence, my father determined to leave him 
at home on those occasions. So the next Sunday morning 
he was sent up to the front room of the second story. 
After the family had left for church he contented himself 
for a while looking out of the window, which was open, 
it being summer time. Presently impatience overcame 
his judgment and he jumped to the ground, landed 
safely notwithstanding the distance, joined the family 
just as they reached the church, and went in with them 
as usual, much to the joy of the children. After that 
he was allowed to go to church whenever he wished. 
My father was very fond of him, and loved to talk to him 
and about him as if he were really one of us. In a letter 
to my mother, dated Fort Hamilton, January 18, 1846, 
when she and her children were on a visit to Arlington, 
he thus speaks of him: 

" ... I am very solitary, and my only company 
is my dog and cats. But Spec has become so jealous 
now that he will hardly let me look at the cats. He 
seems to be afraid that I am going off from him, and 
never lets me stir without him. Lies down in the office 
from eight to four without moving, and turns himself 
before the fire as the side from it becomes cold. I catch 
him sometimes sitting up looking at me so intently that 
I am for a moment startled. ..." 

In a letter from Mexico written a year later — December 
25, 1846, to my mother, he says: 

" . . . Can't you cure poor Spec? Cheer him 
up — take him to walk with you and tell the children to 
cheer him up. ..." 

In another letter from Mexico to his eldest boy, just 

294 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

after the capture of Vera Cruz, he sends this message to 

"... Tell him I wish he was here with me. He 
would have been of great service in telling me when I was 
coming upon the Mexicans. When I was reconnoitering 
around Vera Cruz, their dogs frequently told me by bark- 
ing when I was approaching them too nearly. . . . " 

When he returned to Arlington from Mexico, Spec was 
the first to recognise him, and the extravagance of his 
demonstrations of delight left no doubt that he knew 
at once his kind master and loving friend, though he had 
been absent three years. Sometime during our residence 
in Baltimore, Spec disappeared, and we never knew his 

From that early time I began to be impressed with 
my father's character, as compared with other men. 
Every member of the household respected, revered, and 
loved him as a matter of course, but it began to dawn on 
me that every one else with whom I was thrown held him 
high in their regard. At forty-five years of age he was 
active, strong, and as handsome as he had ever been. 
I never remember his being ill. I presume he was in- 
disposed at times; but no impressions of that kind remain. 
He was always bright and gay with us little folk — romping, 
playing, and joking with us. With the older children, 
he was just as companionable, and I have seen him join 
my elder brothers and their friends when they would 
try their powers at a high jump put up in our yard. The 
two younger children he petted a great deal, and our 
greatest treat was to get into his bed in the morning and 
lie close to him, listening while he talked to us in his 
bright, entertaining way. This custom we kept up until 
I was ten years old and over. Although he was so joyous 

Robert E. Lee 295 

and familiar with us, he was very firm on all proper oc- 
casions, never indulged us in anything that was not good 
for us, and exacted the most implicit obedience. I 
always knew that it was impossible to disobey my father. 
I felt it in me, I never thought why, but was perfectly 
sure when he gave an order that it had to be obeyed. 
My mother I could sometimes circumvent, and at times 
took liberties with her orders, construing them to suit 
myself; but exact obedience to every mandate of my 
father was a part of my life and being at that time. 

In January, 1849, Captain Lee was one of a board of 
army officers appointed to examine the coasts of Florida 
and its defences, and to recommend locations for new 
fortifications. In April he was assigned to the duty of the 
construction of Fort Carroll, in the Patapsco River, below 
Baltimore. He was there, I think, for three years, and 
lived in a house on Madison Street, three doors above 
Biddle. I used to go down with him to the Fort quite 
often. We went to the wharf in a "bus," and there we 
were met by a boat with two oarsmen, who rowed us 
down to Sollers Point, where I was generally left under 
the care of the people who lived there, while my father 
went over to the Fort, a short distance out in the river. 
These days were very happy ones for me. The wharves, 
the shipping, the river, the boat and oarsmen, and the 
country dinner we had at the house at Sollers Point, all 
made a strong impression on me, but above all I re- 
member my father; his gentle, loving care for me, his 
bright talk, his stories, his maxims and teachings. I was 
very proud of him and of the evident respect for and trust 
in him every one showed. These impressions, obtained at 
that time, have never left me. He was a great favourite in 

296 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

Baltimore, as he was everywhere, especially with ladies 
and little children. When he and my mother went out in the 
evening to some entertainment, we were often allowed 
to sit up and see them off; my father, as I remember, 
always in full uniform, always ready and waiting for my 
mother, who was generally late. He would then chide her 
gently, in a playful way and with a bright smile. He 
would then bid us good-bye, and I would go to sleep 
with this beautiful picture on my mind, the golden epau- 
lets and all — chiefly the epaulets. 

In Baltimore, I went to my first school, that of a Mr. 
Rollins on Mulberry Street, and I remember how inter- 
ested my father was in my studies, my failures, and my lit- 
tle triumphs. Indeed, he was so always, as long as I was 
at school and college, and I only wish that all of the kind, 
sensible, useful letters he wrote me had been preserved. 

My memory as to the move from Baltimore, which 
occurred in 1852, is very dim. I think the family went 
to Arlington to remain until my father had arranged for 
our removal to the new home at West Point. 

My recollection of my father as Superintendent of the 
West Point Military Academy is much more distinct. 
He lived in the house which is still occupied by the Super- 
intendent. It was built of stone, large and roomy, with 
gardens, stables, and pasture lots. We, the two youngest 
children, enjoyed it all. Grace Darling and Santa 
Anna" were with us, and many a fine ride did I have 
with my father in the afternoons, when, released from 
his office, he would mount his old mare and, with Santa 
Anna carrying me by his side, take a five or ten-mile trot. 
Though the pony cantered delightfully, he would make 
me keep him in a trot, saying playfully that the hammer- 
ing I sustained was good for me. We rode the dragoon- 

Robert E. Lee 297 

seat, no posting, and until I became accustomed to it I 
used to be very tired by the time I got back. 

My father was the most punctual man I ever knew. 
He was always ready for family prayers, for meals, and 
met every engagement, social or business, at the moment. 
He expected all of us to be the same, and taught us the 
use and necessity of forming such habits for the conven- 
ience of all concerned. I never knew him late for Sunday 
service at the Post Chapel. He used to appear some 
minutes before the rest of us, in uniform, jokingly rallying 
my mother for being late, and for forgetting something 
at the last moment. When he could wait no longer for 
her, he would say that he was off, and would march along 
to church by himself or with any of the children who 
were ready. There he sat very straight — well up the 
middle aisle— and, as I remember, always became very 
sleepy, and sometimes even took a little nap during the 
sermon. At that time, this drowsiness of my father's 
was something awful to me, inexplicable. I know it was 
very hard for me to keep awake, and frequently I did not; 
but why he, who to my mind could do everything that 
was right without any effort, should sometimes be over- 
come, I could not understand, and did not try to do so. 

It was against the rules that the cadets should go be- 
yond certain limits without permission. Of course they 
did go sometimes, and when caught were given quite 
a number of "demerits." My father was riding one 
afternoon with me, and, while rounding a turn in the 
mountain road with a deep woody ravine on one side, we 
came suddenly upon three cadets far beyond the limits. 
They immediately leaped over a low wall on the side of 
the road, and disappeared from our view. We rode on 
for a minute in silence ; then my father said.' "Did you 

298 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

know those young men ? But no ; if you did, don't say 
so. I wish boys would do what is right, it would be so 
much easier for all parties!" 

He knew he would have to report them, but, not being 
sure of who they were, I presume he wished to give 
them the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, I never 
heard any more about it. One of the three asked me 
next day if my father had recognised them, and I told 
him what had occurred. 

By this time I had become old enough to have a room 
to myself, and, to encourage me in being useful and prac- 
tical, my father made me attend to it, just as the cadets 
had to do with their quarters in barracks and in camp. 
He at first even went through the form of inspecting it, to 
see if I had performed my duty properly, and I think I 
enjoyed this until the novelty wore off. However, I was 
kept at it, becoming in time very proficient, and the 
knowledge so accquired has been of great use to me all 
through life. 

My father always encouraged me in every healthy out- 
door exercise and sport. He taught me to ride, con- 
stantly giving me minute instructions, with the reasons 
for them. He gave me my first sled, and sometimes 
used to come out where we boys were coasting to look on. 
He gave me my first pair of skates, and placed me in the 
care of a trustworthy person, inquiring regularly how I 
progressed. It was the same with swimming, which he 
was very anxious I should learn in a proper manner. 
Professor Bailey had a son about my age, now himself a 
professor of Brown University, Providence, Rhode 
Island, who became my great chum. I took my first 
lesson in the water with him, under the direction and 
supervision of his father. My father inquired con- 

Robert E. Lee 299 

stantly how I was getting along, and made me describe 
exactly my method and stroke, explaining to me what he 
considered the best way to swim, and the reasons therefor. 
I went to a day school at West Point, and had always 
a sympathetic helper in my father. Often he would come 
into my room where I studied at night, and, sitting down 
by me, would show me how to overcome a hard sentence 
in my Latin reader or a difficult sum in arithmetic, not 
by giving me the translation of the troublesome sentence 
or the answer to the sum, but by showing me, step by 
step, the way to the right solutions. He was very patient, 
very loving, very good to me, and I remember trying my 
best to please him in my studies. When I was able to 
bring home a good report from my teacher, he was greatly 
pleased, and showed it in his eye and voice, but he always 
insisted that I should get the "maximum," that he would 
never be perfectly satisfied with less. That I did some- 
times win it, deservedly, I know was due to his judicious 
and wise method of exciting my ambition and persever- 
ance. I have endeavoured to show how fond my father 
was of his children, and as the best picture I can offer of 
his loving, tender devotion to us all, I give here a letter 
from him written about this time to one of his daughters 
who was staying with our grandmother, Mrs. Custis, at 

"West Point, February 7 25, 1853. 
"My precious Annie: I take advantage of your gra- 
cious permission to write to you, and there is no telling how 
far my feelings might carry me were I not limited by the 
conveyance furnished by the Mini's* letter, which lies 
before me, and which must, the Mim says so, go in this 
morning's mail. But my limited time does not diminish 
my affection for you, Annie, nor prevent my thinking of 

* His pet name for my mother. 

300 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

you and wishing for you. I long to see you through the 
dilatory nights. At dawn when I rise, and all day, my 
thoughts revert to you in expressions that you cannot hear 
or I repeat. I hope you will always appear to me as you 
are now painted on my heart, and that you will endeavour 
to improve and so conduct yourself as to make you happy 
and me joyful all our lives. Diligent and earnest atten- 
tion to all your duties can only accomplish this. I am 
told you are growing very tall, and I hope very straight. 
I do not know what the cadets will say if the Superinten- 
dent's children do not practice what he demands of them. 
They will naturally say he had better attend to his own 
before he corrects other people's children, and as he 
permits his to stoop it is hard he will not allow them. 
You and Agnes* must not, therefore, bring me into dis- 
credit with my young friends, or give them reason to think 
that I require more of them than of my own. I presume 
your mother has told all about us, our neighbours and our 
affairs. And indeed she may have done that and not said 
much either, so far as I know. But we are all well and 
have much to be grateful for. To-morrow we anticipate 
the pleasure of your brother's! company, which is always 
a source of pleasure to us. It is the only time we see 
him, except when the Corps come under my view at some 
of their exercises, when my eye is sure to distinguish him 
among his comrades and follow him over the plain. Give 
much love to your dear grandmother, grandfather, Agnes, 
Miss Sue, Lucretia, and all friends, including the servants. 
Write sometimes, and think always of your 
"Affectionate father, 

"R. E. Lee." 

In a letter to my mother, written many years previous 
to this, he says: 

"I pray God to watch over and direct our efforts in 
guarding our dear little son. . . . Oh, what pleasure 
I lose in being separated from my children! Nothing 
can compensate me for that. . . . " 

* His third daughter. 
t His son, Curtis. 

Robert E. Lee 301 

In another letter of about the same time: 

"You do not know how much I have missed you and 
the children, my dear Mary. To be alone in a crowd is 
very solitary. In the woods, I feel sympathy with the 
trees and birds, in whose company I take delight, but 
experience no pleasure in a strange crowd. I hope you 
are all well and will continue so, and, therefore, must 
again urge you to be very prudent and careful of those 
dear children. If I could only get a squeeze at that little 
fellow, turning up his sweet mouth to 'keese baba ! ' You 
must not let him run wild in my absence, and will have 
to exercise firm authority over all of them. This will 
not require severity or even strictness, but constant atten- 
tion and an unwavering course. Mildness and forebear- 
ance will strengthen their affection for you, while it will 
maintain your control over them." 

In a letter to one of his sons he writes as follows: 

"I cannot go to bed, my dear son, without writing you 
a few lines to thank you for your letter, which gave me 
great pleasure . . . You and Custis must take great 
care of your kind mother and dear sisters when your father 
is dead. To do that you must learn to be good. Be true, 
kind and generous, and pray earnestly to God to enable 
you to keep His Commandments 'and walk in the same 
all the days of your life.' I hope to come on soon to see 
that little baby you have got to show me. You must give 
her a kiss for me, and one to all the children, to your 
mother, and grandmother. " 

The expression of such sentiments as these was com- 
mon to my father all through his life, and to show that it 
was all children and not his own little folk alone that 
charmed and fascinated him, I quote from a letter to my 

" ... I saw a number of little girls all dressed 
up in their white frocks and pantalets, their hair plaited 

302 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and tied up with ribbons, running and chasing each other 
in all directions. I counted twenty-three nearly the 
same size. As I drew up my horse to admire the spec- 
tacle, a man appeared at the door with the twenty-fourth 
in his arms. 

" 'My friend,' said I, 'are all these your children?' 

" 'Yes,' he said, 'and there are nine more in the house, 
and this is the youngest.' 

"Upon further inquiry, however, I found that they were 
only temporarily his, and that they were invited to a party 
at his house. He said, however, he had been admiring 
them before I came up, and just wished that he had a 
million of dollars, and that they were all his in reality. 
I do not think the eldest exceeded seven or eight years 
old. It was the prettiest sight I have seen in the west, 
and, perhaps, in my life. ..." 

As Superintendent of the Military Academy at West 
Point my father had to entertain a good deal, and I re- 
member well how handsome and grand he looked in 
uniform, how genial and bright, how considerate of 
everybody's comfort of mind and body. He was always 
a great favourite with the ladies, especially the young 
ones. His fine presence, his gentle, courteous manners 
and kindly smile put them at once at ease with him. 

Among the cadets at this time were my eldest brother, 
Custis, who graduated first in his class in 1854, and my 
father's nephew, Fitz Lee, a third classman, besides 
other relatives and friends. Saturday being a half- 
holiday for the cadets, it was the custom for all social 
events in which they were to take part to be placed on 
that afternoon or evening. Nearly every Saturday a 
number of these young men were invited to our house to 
tea, or supper, for it was a good, substantial meal. The 
misery of some of these lads, owing to embarrassment, 
possibly from awe of the Superintendent, was pitiable and 
evident even to me, a boy of ten or twelve years old. But 

Robert E. Lee 303 

as soon as my father got command, as it were, of the 
situation, one could see how quickly most of them were 
put at their ease. He would address himself to the task 
of making them feel comfortable and at home, and his 
genial manner and pleasant ways at once succeeded. 

In the spring of 1853 my grandmother, Mrs. Custis, 
died. This was the first death in our immediate 
family. She was very dear to us, and was admired, 
esteemed, and loved by all who had ever known her. 
Bishop Meade, of Virginia, writes of her: 

" Mrs. Mary Custis, of Arlington, the wife of Mr. Wash- 
ington Custis, grandson of Mrs. General Washington, 
was the daughter of Mr. William Fitzhugh, of Chatham. 
Scarcely is there a Christian lady in our land more 
honoured than she was, and none more loved and 
esteemed. For good sense, prudence, sincerity, benevo- 
lence, unaffected piety, disinterested zeal in every good 
work, deep humanity and retiring modesty — for all the 
virtues which adorn the wife, the mother, and the friend 
— I never knew her superior." 

In a letter written to my mother soon after this sad 
event my father says: 

"May God give you strength to enable you to bear and 
say, 'His will be done.' She has gone from all trouble, 
care and sorrow to a holy immortality, there to rejoice 
and praise forever the God and Saviour she so long and 
truly served. Let that be our comfort and that our con- 
solation. May our death be like hers, and may we meet 
in happiness in Heaven." 

In another letter about the same time he writes : 

" She was to me all that a mother could be, and I yield 
to none in admiration for her character, love for her vir- 
tues, and veneration for her memory." 

304 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

At this time, my father's family and friends persuaded 
him to allow R. S. Weir, Professor of Painting and Draw- 
ing at the Academy, to paint his portrait. As far as I 
remember, there was only one sitting, and the artist had 
to finish it from memory or from the glimpses he obtained 
of his subject in the regular course of their daily lives at 
"The Point." This picture shows my father in the un- 
dress uniform of a Colonel of Engineers,* and many 
think it a very good likeness. To me, the expression of 
strength peculiar to his face is wanting, and the mouth 
fails to portray that sweetness of disposition so char- 
acteristic of his countenance. Still, it was like him at 
that time. My father never could bear to have his pic- 
ture taken, and there are no likenesses of him that really 
give his sweet expression. Sitting for a picture was such 
a serious business with him that he never could "look 

In 1855 my father was appointed to the lieutenant- 
colonelcy of the Second Cavalry, one of the two regiments 
just raised. He left West Point to enter upon his new 
duties, and his family went to Arlington to live. During 
the fall and winter of 1855 and '56, the Second Cavalry 
was recruited and organised at Jefferson Barracks, Mis- 
souri, under the direction of Colonel Lee, and in the 
following spring was marched to western Texas, where it 
was assigned the duty of protecting the settlers in that 
wild country. 

I did not see my father again until he came to my 
mother at Arlington after the death of her father, G. W. 
P. Custis, in October, 1857. He took charge of my 
mother's estate after her father's death, and commenced 

* His appointment of Superintendent of the Military Academy carried 
with it the temporary rank of Colonel of Engineers. 

Robert E. Lee 305 

at once to put it in order — not an easy task, as it con- 
sisted of several plantations and many negroes. I was at 
a boarding-school, after the family returned to Arlington, 
and saw my father only during the holidays, if he hap- 
pened to be at home. He was always fond of farming, 
and took great interest in the improvements he imme- 
diately began at Arlington relating to the cultivation of 
the farm, to the buildings, roads, fences, fields, and stock, 
so that in a very short time the appearance of everything 
on the estate was improved. He often said that he 
longed for the time when he could have a farm of his own, 
where he could end his days in quiet and peace, inter- 
ested in the care and improvement of his own land. 
This idea was always with him. In a letter to his son, 
written in July, 1865, referring to some proposed indict- 
ments of prominent Confederates, he says : 

"... As soon as I can ascertain their intention 
toward me, if not prevented, I shall endeavour to procure 
some humble, but quiet abode for your mother and sis- 
ters, where I hope they can be happy. As I before said, 
I want to get in some grass country where the natural 

product of the land will do much for my subsistence. 

Again in a letter to his son, dated October, 1865, after 
he had accepted the presidency of Washington College, 
Lexington, Virginia: 

"I should have selected a more quiet life and a more 
retired abode than Lexington. I should have preferred 
a small farm, where I could have earned my daily bread." 

About this time I was given a gun of my own, and was 
allowed to go shooting by myself. My father, to give me 
an incentive, offered a reward for every crow-scalp I 
could bring him, and, in order that I might get to work at 

306 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

once, advanced a small sum with which to buy powder 
and shot, this sum to be returned to him out of the first 
scalps obtained. My industry and zeal were great, my 
hopes high, and by good luck I did succeed in bagging 
two crows about the second time I went out. I showed 
them with great pride to my father, intimating that I 
should shortly be able to return him his loan, and that 
he must be prepared to hand over to me very soon further 
rewards for my skill. His eyes twinkled, and his smile 
showed that he had strong doubts of my making an in- 
come by killing crows, and he was right, for I never 
killed another, though I tried hard and long. 

I saw but little of my father after we left West Point. 
He went to Texas, as I have stated, in '55 and remained 
until the fall of '57, the time of my grandfather's death. 
He was then at Arlington about a year. Returning to 
his regiment, he remained in Texas until the autumn of 
'59, when he came again to Arlington, having applied for 
leave in order to finish the settling of my grandfather's 
estate. During this visit he was selected by the Secretary 
of War to suppress the famous " John Brown Raid," and 
was sent to Harper's Ferry in command of the United 
States troops. 

From his memorandum book the following entries are 
taken : 

"October 17, 1859. Received orders from the Secre- 
tary of War, in person, to repair in evening train to Har- 
per's Ferry. 

"Reached Harper's Ferry at n p. m. . . . Posted 
marines in the United States Armory. Waited until 
daylight, as a number of citizens were held as hostages, 
whose lives were threatened. Tuesday about sunrise, 
with twelve marines, under Lieutenant Green, broke in 
the door of the engine-house, secured the insurgents and 

Robert E. Lee 307 

relieved the prisoners unhurt. All the insurgents killed 
or mortally wounded, but four, John Brown, Stevens, 
Coppie, and Shields." 

Brown was tried and convicted, and sentenced to be 
hanged on December 2, 1859. Colonel Lee writes as 
follows to his wife: 

"Harper's Ferry, December 1, 1859. 

"I arrived here, dearest Mary, yesterday about noon, 
with four companies from Fort Monroe, and was busy all 
the evening and night getting accommodation for the 
men, etc., and posting sentinels and pickets to insure 
timely notice of the approach of the enemy. The night 
has passed off quietly. The feelings of the community 
seemed to be calmed down, and I have been received 
with every kindness. Mr. Fry is among the officers from 
Old Point. There are several young men, former ac- 
quaintance of ours, as cadets, Mr. Bingham of Custis's 
class, Sam Cooper, etc., but the senior officers I never 
met before, except Captain Howe, the friend of our Cousin 
Harriet R . 

"I presume we are fixed here till after the 16th. To- 
morrow will probably be the last of Captain Brown. 
There will be less interest for the others, but still I think 
the troops will not be withdrawn till they are similarly 
disposed of. 

"Custis will have informed you that I had to go to 
Baltimore the evening that I left you, to make arrange- 
ments for the transportation for the troops. . . . This 
morning I was introduced to Mrs. Brown, who, with a 
Mrs. Tyndall and a Mr. and Mrs. McKim, all from Phila- 
delphia, had come on to have a last interview with her hus- 
band. As it is a matter over which I have no control I 
referred them to General Taliaferro.* 

"You must write to me at this place. I hope you are 
all well. Give love to everybody. Tell Smith j that no 

* General William B. Taliaferro, commanding Virginia troops at 
Harper's Ferry, 
t Sidney Smith Lee, of the United States Navy, his brother. 

308 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

charming women have insisted on taking care of me as 
they are always doing of him — I am left to my own 
resources. I will write you again soon, and will always 
be truly and affectionately yours, 

"R. E. Lee. 
"Mrs. M.C.Lee." 

In February, i860, he was ordered to take command 
of the Department of Texas. There he remained a 
year. The first months after his arrival were spent in 
the vain pursuit of the famous brigand, Cortinez, who 
was continually stealing across the Rio Grande, burning 
the homes, driving off the stock of the ranchmen, and 
then retreating into Mexico. The summer months he 
spent in San Antonio, and while there interested himself 
with the good people of that town in building an Episcopal 
church, to which he contributed largely. 



HE WAS long; he was strong; he was wiry. He 
was never sick, was always good-natured, never 
a bully, always a friend of the weak, the small and 
the unprotected. He must have been a funny-look- 
ing boy. His skin was sallow, and his hair was black, 
He wore a linsey-woolsey shirt, buckskin breeches, a coon- 
skin cap, and heavy "clumps " of shoes. He grew so fast 
that his breeches never came down to the tops of his shoes, 
and, instead of stockings, you could always see "twelve 
inches of shinbones," sharp, blue, and narrow. He 
laughed much, was always ready to give and take jokes 
and hard knocks, had a squeaky, changing voice, a small 
head, big ears — and was always what Thackeray called 
"a gentle-man." Such was Abraham Lincoln at fifteen. 

He was never cruel, mean, or unkind. His first compo- 
sition was on cruelty to animals, written because he had 
tried to make the other boys stop "teasin' tarrypins" — 
that is, catching turtles and putting hot coals on their 
backs just to make them move along lively. He had to 
work hard at home; for his father would not, and things 
needed to be attended to if "the place" was to be kept 
from dropping to pieces. 

He became a great reader. He read every book and 
newspaper he could get hold of, and if he came across any- 
thing in his reading that he wished to remember he 
would copy it on a shingle, because writing paper was 

310 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

scarce, and either learn it by heart or hide the shingle 
away until he could get some paper to copy it on. 
His father thought he read too much. " It will spile 
him for work," he said. "He don't do half enough 
about the place, as it is, now, and books and papers 
ain't no good." But Abraham, with all his reading, did 
more work than his father any day; his stepmother, too, 
took his side and at last got her husband to let the boy 
read and study at home. "Abe was a good son to me," 
she said, many many years after, "and we took particular 
care when he was reading not to disturb him. We would 
just let him read on and on till he quit of his own ac- 

The boy kept a sort of shingle scrap-book; he kept a 
paper scrap-book, too. Into these he would put what- 
ever he cared to keep — poetry, history, funny sayings, fine 
passages. He had a scrap-book for his arithmetic 
"sums," too, and one of these is still in existence with this 
boyish rhyme in a boyish scrawl, underneath one of his 
tables of weights and measures: 

Abraham Lincoln 
his hand and pen 
he will be good but 
god knows when. 

God did know when; and that boy, all unconsciously, was 
working toward the day when his hand and pen were to do 
more for humanity than any other hand or pen of modern 

Lamps and candles were almost unknown in his home, 
and Abraham, flat on his stomach, would often do his 
reading,writing, and ciphering in the firelight, as it flashed 
and flickered on the big hearth of his log-cabin home. An 
older cousin, John Hanks, who lived for a while with the 

The Youth of Lincoln 311 

Lincoliis, says that when "Abe," as he always called 
the great President, would come home, as a boy, from his 
work, he would go to the cupboard, take a piece of corn 
bread for his supper, sit down on a chair, stretch out his 
long legs until they were higher than his head — and read, 
and read, and read. "Abe and I," said John Hanks, 
"worked barefoot; grubbed it, ploughed it, mowed and 
cradled it; ploughed corn, gathered corn, and shucked 
corn, and Abe read constantly whenever he could get 
a chance." 

One day Abraham found that a man for whom he 
sometimes worked owned a copy of Weems's "Life of 
Washington." This was a famous book in its day. 
Abraham borrowed it at once. When he was not reading 
it, he put it away on a shelf — a clapboard resting on 
wooden pins. There was a big crack between the logs, 
behind the shelf, and one rainy day the "Life of Wash- 
ington" fell into the crack and was soaked almost into 
pulp. Old Mr. Crawford, from whom Abraham bor- 
rowed the book, was a cross, cranky, and sour old fellow, 
and when the boy told him of the accident he said Abra- 
ham must "work the book out." 

The boy agreed, and the old farmer kept him so strictly 
to his promise that he made him "pull fodder" for the 
cattle three days, as payment for the book! And that is 
the way that Abraham Lincoln bought his first book. 
For he dried the copy of Weems's "Life of Washington" 
and put it in his "library." But what boy or girl of to- 
day would like to buy books at such a price ? 

This was the boy-life of Abraham Lincoln. It was a 
life of poverty, privation, hard work, little play, and less 
money. The boy did not love work. But he worked. 
His father was rough and often harsh and hard to him, 

312 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

and what Abraham learned was by making the most of 
his spare time. He was inquisitive, active, and hardy, 
and, in his comfortless boyhood, he was learning lessons 
of self-denial, independence, pluck, shrewdness, kindness, 
and persistence. 

In the spring of 1830, there was another "moving 
time" for the Lincolns. The corn and the cattle, the 
farm and its hogs were all sold at public "vandoo," or 
auction, at low figures; and with all their household 
goods on a big "ironed" wagon drawn by four oxen, the 
three related families of Hanks, Hall and Lincoln, thir- 
teen in all, pushed on through the mud and across rivers, 
high from the spring freshets, out of Indiana, into Illinois. 
^ Abraham held the "gad" and guided the oxen. He 
carried with him, also, a little stock of pins, needles, 
thread, and buttons. These he peddled along the way; 
and, at last, after fifteen days of slow travel, the emigrants 
came to the spot picked out for a home. This time it was 
on a small bluff on the north fork of the Sangamon River, 
ten miles west of the town of Decatur. The usual log 
house was built; the boys, with the oxen, "broke up," 
or cleared, fifteen acres of land, and split enough rails to 
fence it in. Abraham could swing his broad-axe better 
than any man or boy in the West ; at one stroke he could 
bury the axe-blade to the haft, in a log, and he was already 
famous as an expert rail-splitter. 

By this time his people were settled in their new home, 
Abraham Lincoln was twenty-one. He was "of age" — 
he was a man ! By the law of the land he was freed from 
his father's control; he could shift for himself, and he 
determined to do so. This did not mean that he disliked 
his father. It simply meant that he had no intention of 
following his father's example. Thomas Lincoln had 

The Youth of Lincoln 313 

demanded all the work and all the wages his son could 
earn or do, and Abraham felt that he could not have a fair 
chance to accomplish anything or get ahead in the world 
if he continued living with this shiftless, never-satisfied, 
do-nothing man. 

So he struck out for himself. In the summer of 1830, 
Abraham left home and hired out on his own account, 
wherever he could get a job in the new country into which 
he had come. In that region of big farms and no fences, 
these latter were needed, and Abraham Lincoln's stal- 
wart arm and well-swung axe came well into play, cutting 
up logs for fences. He was what was called in that 
western country a "rail-splitter." Indeed, one of the 
first things he did when he struck out for himself was to 
split four hundred rails for every yard of "blue jeans" 
necessary to make him a pair of trousers. From which it 
will be seen that work was easier to get than clothes. 

He soon became as much of a favourite in Illinois as 
he had been in Indiana. Other work came to him, and, 
in 1831, he "hired out" with a man named Offutt to 
help sail a flat-boat down the Mississippi to New Orleans. 
Mr. Offutt had heard that "Abe Lincoln" was a good 
river-hand, strong, steady, honest, reliable, accustomed 
to boating, and that he had already made one trip down 
the river. So he engaged young Lincoln at what seemed 
to the young rail-splitter princely wages — fifty cents a 
day, and a third share in the sixty dollars which was to 
be divided among the three boatmen at the end of the 

They built the flat-boat at a saw mill near a place 
called Sangamon town, "Abe" serving as cook of the 
camp while the boat was being built. Then, loading 
the craft with barrel-pork, hogs, and corn, they started 

314 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

on their voyage south. At a place called New Salem 
the flat-boat ran aground; but Lincoln's ingenuity got 
it off. He rigged up a queer contrivance of his own 
invention and lifted the boat off and over the obstruction, 
while all New Salem stood on the bank, first to criticise 
and then to applaud. 

Just what this invention was I cannot explain. But 
if you ever go into the patent office at Washington, ask 
to see Abraham Lincoln's patent for transporting river 
boats over snags and shoals. The wooden model is 
there; for, so pleased was Lincoln with the success that 
he thought seriously of becoming an inventor, and his first 
design was the patent granted to him in 1849, the idea 
for which grew out of this successful floating of 
Offutt's flat-boat over the river snags at New Salem 
nineteen years before. 

Once again he visited New Orleans, returning home, 
as before, by steamboat. That voyage is remarkable, 
because it first opened young Lincoln's eyes to the 
enormity of African slavery. Of course, he had seen 
slaves before; but the sight of a slave sale in the old 
market place of New Orleans seems to have aroused 
his anger and given him an intense hatred of slave- 
holding. He, himself, declared, years after, that it 
was that visit to New Orleans, that had set him so 
strongly against slavery. 

There is a story told by one of his companions that 
Lincoln looked for a while upon the dreadful scenes of 
the slave market and then, turning away, said excitedly, 
"Come away, boys! If I ever get a chance, some day, 
to hit that thing" — and he flung his long arm toward 
the dreadful auction block — "I'll hit it hard." 

Soon after he returned from his flat-boat trip to New 

The Youth of Lincoln 315 

Orleans he had an opportunity to show that he could not 
and would not stand what is termed "foul play." The 
same Mr. Offutt who had hired Lincoln to be one of 
his flat-boat "boys," gave him another opportunity 
for work. Offutt was what is called in the West a 
"hustler"; he had lots of "great ideas" and plans for 
making money; and, among his numerous enterprises, 
was one to open a country store and mill at New Salem — 
the very same village on the Sangamon where, by his 
"patent invention," Lincoln had lifted the flat-boat off 
the snags. 

Mr. Offutt had taken a great fancy to Lincoln, and 
offered him a place as clerk in the New Salem store. The 
young fellow jumped at the chance. It seemed to him 
quite an improvement on being a farm-hand, a flat-boat- 
man, or a rail-splitter. It was, indeed, a step upward; 
for it gave him better opportunities for self-instruction 
and more chances for getting ahead. 

Offutt's store was a favourite "loafing place" for the 
New Salem boys and young men. Among these, were 
some of the roughest fellows in the settlement. They 
were known as the "Clary Grove Boys," and they were 
always ready for a fight, in which they would, sometimes, 
prove themselves to be bullies and tormentors. When, 
therefore, Offutt began to brag about his new clerk the 
Clary Grove Boys made fun at him; whereupon the 
storekeeper cried: "What's that? You can throw 
him? Well, I reckon not; Abe Lincoln can out-run, 
out-walk, out-rassle, knock out, and throw down any 
man in Sangamon County." This was too much for 
the Clary Grove Boys. They took up Offutt's chal- 
lenge, and, against "Abe," set up, as their champion 
and "best man," one Jack Armstrong. 

31 6 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

All this was done without Lincoln's knowledge. He 
had no desire to get into a row with anyone — least of all 
with the bullies who made up the Clary Grove Boys. 

"I won't do it," he said, when Offutt told him of the 
proposed wrestling match. "I never tussle and scuffle, 
and I will not. I don't like this wooling and pulling. " 

"Don't let them call you a coward, Abe," said Offutt. 

Of course, you know what the end would be to such an 
affair. Nobody likes to be called a coward — especially 
when he knows he is not one. So, at last, Lincoln con- 
sented to "rassle" with Jack Armstrong. They met, 
with all the boys as spectators. They wrestled, and 
tugged, and clenched, but without result. Both young 
fellows were equally matched in strength. "It's no use, 
Jack," Lincoln at last declared. "Let's quit. You 
can't throw me, and I can't throw you. That's enough. " 

With that, all Jack's backers began to cry "coward!" 
and urged on the champion to another tussle. Jack 
Armstrong was now determined to win, by fair means 
or foul. He tried the latter, and, contrary to all rules 
of wrestling began to kick and trip, while his supporters 
stood ready to help, if need be, by breaking in with a 
regular free fight. This "foul play" roused the lion in 
Lincoln. He hated unfairness, and at once resented it. 
He suddenly put forth his Samson-like strength, grabbed 
the champion of the Clary Grove Boys by the throat, and, 
lifting him from the ground, held him at arm's length 
and shook him as a dog shakes a rat. Then he flung him 
to the ground, and, facing the amazed and yelling crowd, 
he cried: "You cowards! You know I don't want to 
fight; but if you try any such games, I'll tackle the 
whole lot of you. I've won the fight." 

He had. From that day, no man in all that region 

The Youth of Lincoln 317 

dared to "tackle" young Lincoln, or to taunt him with 
cowardice. And Jack Armstrong was his devoted 
friend and admirer. 

I have told you more, perhaps, of the famous fight 
than I ought — not because it was a fight, but because it 
gives you a glimpse of Abraham Lincoln's character. 
He disliked rows; he was too kind-hearted and good- 
natured to wish to quarrel with any one; but he hated 
unfairness, and was enraged at anything like persecution 
or bullying. If you will look up Shakespeare's play 
of "Hamlet" you will see that Lincoln was ready to act 
upon the advice that old Polonius gave to his son Laertes : 

" Beware 
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, 
Bear it that the opposer may beware of thee." 

He became quite a man in that little community. As 
a clerk he was obliging and strictly honest. He was the 
judge and the settler of all disputes, and none thought 
of combating his decisions. He was the village peace- 
maker. He hated profanity, drunkenness, and unkind- 
ness to women. He was feared and respected by all, 
and even the Clary Grove Boys declared, at last, that 
he was "the cleverest feller that ever broke into the 

All the time, too, he was trying to improve himself. 
He liked to sit around and talk and tell stories, just the 
same as ever; but he saw this was not the way to get on 
in the world. He worked, whenever he had the chance, 
outside of his store duties; and once, when trade was 
dull and hands were short in the clearing, he "turned to" 
and split enough logs into rails to make a pen for a thou- 
sand hogs. 

31S Heroes Every Child Should Know 

When he was not at work he devoted himself to his 
books. He could "read, write, and cipher" — this was 
more education than most men about him possessed; 
but he hoped, some day, to go before the public ; to do this, 
he knew he must speak and write correctly. He talked 
to the village schoolmaster, who advised him to study 
English grammar. 

"Well, if I had a grammar," said Lincoln, "I'd begin 
now. Have you got one?" 

The schoolmaster had no grammar; but he told "Abe" 
of a man, six miles off, who owned one. Thereupon, 
Lincoln started upon the run to borrow that grammar. 
He brought it back so quickly that the schoolmaster was 
astonished. Then he set to work to learn the "rules 
and exceptions." He studied that grammar, stretched 
full length on the store-counter, or under a tree outside 
the store, or at night before a blazing fire of shavings in 
the cooper's shop. And soon, he had mastered it. He 
borrowed every book in New Salem ; he made the school- 
master give him lessons in the store; he button-holed 
every stranger that came into the place "who looked as 
though he knew anything"; until, at last, every one in 
New Salem was ready to echo Offutt's boast that "Abe 
Lincoln" knew more than any man "in these United 
States." One day, in the bottom of an old barrel of 
trash, he made a splendid "find." It was two old 
law books. He read and re-read them, got all the 
sense and argument out of their dry pages, blos- 
somed into a debater, began to dream of being 
a lawyer, and became so skilled in seeing through 
and settling knotty questions that, once again, New 
Salem wondered at this clerk of Offutt's, who was 
as long of head as of arms and legs, and declared 

The Youth of Lincoln 319 

that "Abe Lincoln could out-argue any ten men in 
the settlement." 

In all the history of America there has been no man 
who started lower and climbed higher than Abraham 
Lincoln, the backwoods boy. He never " slipped back. " 
He always kept going ahead. He broadened his mind, 
enlarged his outlook, and led his companions rather 
than let them lead him. He was jolly company, good- 
natured, kind-hearted, fond of jokes and stories and a 
good time generally; but he was the champion of the 
weak, the friend of the friendless, as true a knight and 
as full of chivalry as any one of the heroes in armour of 
whom you read in "Ivanhoe" or "The Talisman." 
He never cheated, never lied, never took an unfair ad- 
vantage of anyone; but he was ambitious, strong-willed, 
a bold fighter and a tough adversary — a fellow who 
would never "say die"; and who, therefore, succeeded. 



AS WE approached Molokai I found that the slow 
work of centuries had nearly covered its lava 
with verdure. At dawn we were opposite Kalaupapa. 
Two little spired churches, looking precisely alike, caught 
my eye first, and around them were dotted the white 
cottages o£ the lepers. But the sea was too rough for 
us to land. The waves dashed against the rocks, and 
the spray rose fifty feet into the air. 

We went on to Kalawao, but were again disapponted; 
it was too dangerous to disembark. Finally it was de- 
cided to put off a boat for a rocky point about a mile and 
a half distant from the town. Climbing down this point 
we saw about twenty lepers, and "There is Father 
Damien!" said our purser; and, slowly moving along the 
hillside, I saw a dark figure with a large straw hat. He 
came rather painfully down, and sat near the water-side, 
and we exchanged friendly signals across the waves while 
my baggage was being got out of the hold — a long busi- 
ness, owing to the violence of the sea. At last all was 
ready, and we went swinging across the waves, and 
finally chose a fit moment for leaping on shore. Father 
Damien caught me by the hand, and a hearty welcome 
shone from his kindly face as he helped me up the rock. 
He immediately called me by my name, "Edward," and 
said it was "like everything else, a providence," that he 

Father Damien 321 

had met me at that irregular landing-place, for he had 
expected the ship to stop at Kalaupapa. 

He was now forty-nine years old — a thick-set, strongly 
built man, with black curly hair and short beard, turning 
gray. His countenance must have been handsome, with 
a full, well-curved mouth and a short, straight nose ; but 
he was now a good deal disfigured by leprosy, though not 
so badly as to make it anything but a pleasure to look at 
his bright, sensible face. His forehead was swollen and 
rigid, the eyebrows gone, the nose somewhat sunk, and 
the ears greatly enlarged. His hands and face looked 
uneven with a sort of incipient boils, and his body also 
showed many signs of the disease, but he assured me that 
he had felt little or no pain since he had tried Dr. Goto's 
system of hot baths and Japanese medicine. The bath- 
rooms that have been provided by the Government are 
very nice. 

A large wooden box of presents from English friends, 
had been unshipped with the gurjun oil. It was, how- 
ever, so large that Father Damien said it would be im- 
possible for his lepers either to land it from the boat 
or to carry it to Kalawao, and that it must be re- 
turned to the steamer and landed on some voyage 
when the sea was quieter. But I could not give up 
the pleasure of his enjoyment in its contents, so after 
some delay it was forced open in the boat, and the 
things were handed out one by one across the waves. 
The lepers all came round with their poor marred 
faces, and the presents were carried home by them 
and our two selves. 

As we ascended the hill on which the village is built 
Father Damien showed me on our left the chicken farm. 
The lepers are justly proud of it, and before many days I 

322 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

had a fine fowl sent me for dinner, which, after a little 
natural timidity, I ate with thankfulness. 

On arriving at Kalawao we speedily found ourselves 
inside the half-finished church which was the darling of 
his heart. How he enjoyed planning the places where 
the pictures which I had just brought him should be 
placed! By the side of this church he showed me the 
palm-tree under which he lived for some weeks when he 
first arrived at the settlement, in 1873. His own little 
four-roomed house almost joins the church. 

After dinner we went up the little flight of steps which 
led to Father Damien's balcony. This was shaded by a 
honeysuckle in blossom. Some of my happiest times at 
Molokai were spent in this little balcony, sketching him 
and listening to what he said. The lepers came up to 
watch my progress, and it was pleasant to see how happy 
and at home they were. Their poor faces were often 
swelled and drawn and distorted, with bloodshot goggle 

I offered to give a photograph of the picture to his 
brother in Belgium, but he said perhaps it would be bet- 
ter not to do so, as it might pain him to see how he was 
disfigured. He looked mournfully at my work. "What 
an ugly face!" he said; "I did not know the disease had 
made such progress." Looking-glasses are not in great 
request at Molokai ! 

While I sketched him he often read his breviary. At 
other times we talked on subjects that interested us both, 
especially about the work of the Church Army, and some- 
times I sang hymns to him — among others, "Brief life is 
here our portion," "Art thou weary, art thou languid?" 
and "Safe home in port." At such times the expression of 
his face was particularly sweet and tender. One day 1 

Father Damien 323 

asked him if he would like to send a message to Cardinal 
Manning. He said that it was not for such as he to send 
a message to so great a dignitary, but after a moment's 
hesitation he added, "I send my humble respects and 

I need scarcely say that he gave himself no airs of 
martyr, saint, or hero — a humbler man I never saw. He 
smiled modestly and deprecatingly when I gave him the 
Bishop of Peterborough's message— " He won't accept 
the blessing of a heretic bishop, but tell him that he has 
my prayers, and ask him to give me his." "Does he call 
himself a heretic bishop?" he asked doubtfully, and I had 
to explain that the bishop had probably used the term 

One day he told me about his early history. He was 
born on the 3rd of January, 1841 , near Louvain in Belgium. 
On his nineteenth birthday his father took him to see his 
brother, who was then preparing for the priesthood, and 
he left him there to dine, while he himself went on to the 
neighbouring town. Young Joseph (this was his baptis- 
mal name) decided that there was the opportunity for 
taking the step which he had long been desiring to take, 
and when his father came back he told him that he wished 
to return home no more, and that it would be better thus 
to miss the pain of farewells. His father consented un- 
willingly, but, as he was obliged to hurry to the con- 
veyance which was to take him home, there was no time 
for demur, and they parted at the station. Afterward, 
when all was settled, Joseph revisited his home, and 
received his mother's approval and blessing. 

His brother was bent on going to the South Seas tor 
mission work, and all was arranged accordingly; but at 
the last he was laid low with fever, and, to his bitter dis3.p- 

324 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

pointment, forbidden to go. The impetuous Joseph 
asked if it would be a consolation to his brother if he 
were to go instead, and, receiving an affirmative answer, 
he wrote surreptitiously, offering himself, and begging 
that he might be sent, though his education was not yet 
finished. The students were not allowed to send out 
letters till they had been submitted to the Superior, but 
Joseph ventured to disobey. 

One day, as he sat at his studies, the Superior came in, 
and said, with a tender reproach, "Oh, you impatient 
boy! you have written this letter, and you are to go." 

Joseph jumped up, and ran out, and leaped about like 
a young colt. 

"Is he crazy?" said the other students. 

He worked for some years on other islands in the 
Pacific, but it happened that he was one day in 1873 
present at the dedication of a chapel in the island of Maui, 
when the bishop was lamenting that it was impossible 
for him to send a missioner to the lepers at Molokai and 
still less to provide them with a pastor. He had only 
been able to send them occasional and temporary help. 
Some young priests had just arrived in Hawaii for mis- 
sion work, and Father Damien instantly spoke. 

"Monseigneur,"saidhe, "here are your new missioners ; 
one of them could take my district, and if you will be kind 
enough to allow it, I will go to Molokai and labour for 
the poor lepers whose wretched state of bodily and spirit- 
ual misfortune has often made my heart bleed within me." 

His offer was accepted, and that very day, without any 
farewells, he embarked on a boat that was taking some 
cattle to the leper settlement. Whsn he first put his foot 
on the island he said to himseit, "Now Joseph, my boy, 
this is your life-work." 

Father Damien 325 

I did not find one person in the Sandwich Islands who 
had the least doubt as to leprosy being contagious, though 
it is possible to be exposed to the disease for years without 
contracting it. Father Damien told me that he had al- 
ways expected that he should sooner or later become a 
leper, though exactly how he caught it he does not know. 
But it was not likely that he would escape, as he was con- 
stantly living in a polluted atmosphere, dressing the suf- 
ferers' sores, washing their bodies, visiting their death- 
beds, and even digging their graves. In his own words 
is a report of the state of things at Molokai sixteen years 
ago, and I think a portion will be interesting: 

"By special providence of our Divine Lord, who dur- 
ing His public life showed a particular sympathy for the 
lepers, my way was traced toward Kalawao in May, 1873. 
I was then thirty-three years of age, enjoying a robust 
good health. 

"About eighty of the lepers were in the hospital; the 
others, with a very few Kokuas (helpers), had taken 
their abode farther up toward the valley. They had cut 
down the old pandanus groves to build their houses, 
though a great many had nothing but branches of castor- 
oil trees with which to construct their small shelters. 
These frail frames were covered with ki leaves or with 
sugar-cane leaves, the best ones with pili grass. I, my- 
self, was sheltered during several weeks under the single 
pandanus-tree which is preserved up to the present in the 
churchyard. Under such primitive roofs were living 
without distinction of age or sex, old or new cases, all 
more or less strangers one to another, those unfortunate 
outcasts of society. They passed their time with play- 
ing cards, hula (native dances), drinking fermented ki- 
root beer, home-made alcohol, and with the sequels of 

326 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

all this. Their clothes were far from being clean and 
decent, on account of the scarcity of water, which had to 
be brought at that time from a great distance. Many a 
time in fulfilling my priestly duty at their domiciles I 
have been compelled to run outside to breathe fresh air. 
To counteract the bad smell I made myself accustomed to 
the use of tobacco, whereupon the smell of the pipe pre- 
served me somewhat from carrying in my clothes the 
noxious odour of the lepers. At that time the progress 
of the disease was fearful, and the rate of mortality very 
high. The miserable condition of the settlement gave 
it the name of a living graveyard, which name, I am 
happy to state, is to-day no longer applicable to our place." 

In 1874 a "cona" (south) wind blew down most of the 
lepers' wretched, rotten abodes, and the poor sufferers lay 
shivering in the wind and rain, with clothes and blankets 
wet through. In a few days the grass beneath their 
sleeping-mats began to emit a " very unpleasant vapour." 
"I at once," says Father Damien, "called the attention of 
our sympathising agent to the fact, and very soon there 
arrived several schooner-loads of scantling to build solid 
frames with, and all lepers in distress received, on appli- 
cation, the necessary material for the erection of decent 
houses." Friends sent them rough boards and shingles 
and flooring. Some of the lepers had a little money, and 
hired carpenters. For those without means the priest, 
with his leper boys, did the work of erecting a good many 
small houses. 

"I remember well that when I arrived here," again 
says Father Damien, " the poor people were without 
any medicines, with- the exception of a few physics 
and their own native remedies. It was a common sight 
to see people going round with fearful ulcers, which, for 

Father Damien 327 

the want of a few rags or a piece of lint and a little salve, 
were left exposed. Not only were their sores neglected 
but any one getting a fever, or any of the numerous ail- 
ments that lepers are heir to, was carried off for want of 
some simple medicine. 

"Previous to my arrival here it was acknowledged and 
spoken of in the public papers as well as in private letters 
that the greatest want at Kalawao was a spiritual leader. 
It was owing in a great measure to this want that vice as 
a general rule existed instead of virtue, and degradation 
of the lowest type went ahead as a leader of the com- 
munity. . . . When once the disease prostrated them 
women and children were often cast out, and had to find 
some other shelter. Sometimes they were laid behind 
a stone wall, and left there to die, and at other times a 
hired hand would carry them to the hospital. 

"As there were so many dying people, my priestly duty 
toward them often gave me the opportunity to visit them 
at their domiciles, and although my exhortations were 
especially addressed to the prostrated often they would 
fall upon the ears of public sinners, who little by little 
became conscious of the consequences of their wicked 
lives, and began to reform, and thus, with the hope in a 
merciful Saviour, gave up their bad habits. 

"Kindness to all, charity to the needy, a sympathising 
hand to the sufferers and the dying, in conjunction with a 
solid religious instruction to my listeners, have been my 
constant means to introduce moral habits among the 
lepers. I am happy to say that, assisted by the local 
administration, my labours here, which seemed to be 
almost in vain at the beginning, have, thanks to a kind 
Providence, been greatly crowned with success." 

The water supply of Molokai was a pleasant subject 

328 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

with Father Damien. When he first arrived the lepers 
could only obtain water by carrying it from the gulch on 
their poor shoulders; they had also to take their clothes 
to some distance when they required washing, and it was 
no wonder that they lived in a very dirty state. He was 
much exercised about the matter, and one day, to his 
great joy, he was told that at the end of a valley called 
Waihanau there was a natural reservoir. He set out with 
two white men and some of his boys, and travelled up the 
valley till he came with delight to a nearly circular basin 
of most delicious ice-cold water. Its diameter was 
seventy-two feet by fifty-five, and not far from the bank 
they found, on sounding, that it was eighteen feet deep. 
There it lay at the foot of a high cliff, and he was informed 
by the natives that there had never been a drought in 
which this basin had dried up. He did not rest till a 
supply of waterpipes had been sent them, which he and 
all the able lepers went to work and laid. Henceforth 
clear sweet water has been available for all who desire to 
drink, to wash, or to bathe. 

It was after living at the leper settlement for about ten 
years that Father Damien began to suspect that he was 
a leper. The doctors assured him that this was not the 
case. But he once scalded himself in his foot, and to his 
horror he felt no pain. Anaesthesia had begun, and soon 
other fatal signs appeared. One day he asked Dr. 
Arning, the great German doctor who was then resident 
in Molokai, to examine him carefully. 

"I cannot bear to tell you," said Dr. Arning, "but what 
you say is true." 

"It is no shock to me," said Damien, "for I have felt 
sure of it." 

I may mention here that there are three kinds of 

Father Damien 329 

leprosy. Father Damien suffered (as is often the case) 
both from the anaesthetic and the tubercular forms of the 
disease. "Whenever I preach to my people," he said, 
"I do not say 'my brethren,' as you do, but 'we lepers.' 
People pity me and think me unfortunate, but I think 
myself the happiest of missionaries." 

Henceforth he came under the law of segregation, and 
journeys to the other parts of the islands were forbidden. 
But he worked on with the same sturdy, cheerful forti- 
tude, accepting the will of God with gladness, undaunted 
by the continual reminders of his coming fate, which met 
him in the poor creatures around him. 

"I would not be cured," he said to me, "if the price of 
my cure was that I must leave the island and give up my 

A lady wrote to him, "You have given up all earthly 
things to serve God here and to help others, and I believe 
you must have now joy that nothing can take from you 
and a great reward hereafter." 

"Tell her," he said, with a quiet smile, "that it is 
true. I do have that joy now." 

He seldom talked of himself except in answer to ques- 
tions, and he had always about him the simplicity of a 
great man — "clothed with humility." 

My last letter from him is dated: 

"Kalawao, 2%th February, 1889. 
"My dear Edward Clifford — Your sympathising 
letter of 24th gives me some relief in my rather distressed 
condition. I try my best to carry, without much com- 
plaining and in a practical way, for my poor soul's sancti- 
fication, the long-foreseen miseries of the disease, which, 
after all, is a providential agent to detach the heart from 

330 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

all earthly affection, and prompts much the desire of a 
Christian soul to be united — the sooner the better — with 
Him who is her only life. 

"During your long travelling road homeward please do 
not forget the narrow road. We both have to walk care- 
fully, so as to meet together at the home of our common 
and eternal Father. My kind regards and prayers and 
good wishes for all sympathising friends. Bon voyage, 
mon cher ami, et au revoir au ceil — Votus tuus, 

"J. Damien." 

About three weeks after writing this letter he felt sure 
that his end was near, and on the 28th March he took to 
his bed. 

"You see my hands," he said. "All the wounds are 
healing and the crust is becoming black. You know that 
is a sign of death. Look at my eyes too. I have seen so 
many lepers die that I cannot be mistaken. Death is 
not far off. I should have liked to see the Bishop again, 
but le bon Dieu is calling me to keep Easter with Him- 
self. God be blessed! 

"How good He is to have preserved me long enough to 
have two priests by my side at my last moments, and also 
to have the good Sisters of Charity at the Leproserie. 
That has been my Nunc Dimittis. The work of the 
lepers is assured, and I am no longer necessary, and so 
will go up yonder." 

Father Wendolen said, "When you are up above, 
father, you will not forget those you leave orphans behind 
you ?" 

"Oh no! If I have any credit with God, I will inter- 
cede for all in the Leproserie." 

"And will you, like Elijah, leave me your mantle, my 
father, in order that I may have your great heart?" 

Father Damien 331 

"Why, what would you do with it?" said the dying 
martyr, "it is full of leprosy." 

He rallied for a little while after this, and his watchers 
even had a little hope that his days might be lengthened. 
Father Conradi, Father Wendolen, and Brother Joseph 
were much in his company. Brother James was his con- 
stant nurse. The Sisters from Kalaupapa visited him 
often, and it is good to think that the sweet placid face 
and gentle voice of the Mother were near him in his last 
days. Everybody admired his wonderful patience. He 
who had been so ardent, so strong, and so playful, was 
now powerless on his couch. He lay on the ground on 
a wretched mattress like the poorest leper. They had the 
greatest difficulty in getting him to accept a bed. "And 
how poorly off he was ; he who had spent so much money 
to relieve the lepers had so forgotten himself that he had 
none of the comforts and scarcely the necessaries of life." 
Sometimes he suffered intensely; sometimes he was 
partly unconscious. He said that he was continually 
conscious of two persons being present with him. One 
was at the head of his bed and one at his feet. But who 
they were he did not say. The terrible disease had con- 
centrated itself in his mouth and throat. As he lay there 
in his tiny domicile, with the roar of the sea getting 
fainter to his poor diseased ears, and the kind face of 
Brother James becoming gradually indistinct before his 
failing eyes, did the thought come to him that after all 
his work was poor, and his life half a failure? Many 
whom he had hoped much of had disappointed him. Not 
much praise had reached him. The tide of affection 
and sympathy from England had cheered him, but 
England was so far off that it seemed almost like sym- 
pathy and affection from a star. Churches were built, 

332 Heroes Every Child Should Know 

schools and hospitals were in working order, but there was 
still much to be done. He was only forty-nine, and he 
was dying. 

"Well! God's will be done. He knows best. My 
work, with all its faults and failures, is in His hands, and 
before Easter I shall see my Saviour." 

The breathing grew more laboured, the leprous eyes 
were clouded, the once stalwart frame was fast becoming 
rigid. The sound of the passing bell was heard, and the 
wail of the wretched lepers pierced the air. . . . The 
last flickering breath was breathed, and the soul of 
Joseph Damien de Veuster arose like a lark to God. 

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